Denver Wins 2023 Big East Championship
STORRS, Conn. – The No. 5 University of Denver women’s lacrosse team won the Big East Tournament Championship on Sunday with an 11-6 victory against the No. 24 Connecticut Huskies at Joseph. J. Morrone Stadium on the UConn campus.
The victory marked Denver’s third-straight Big East Tournament title and the fourth conference championship in program history. DU is the first squad to win three consecutive Big East titles since the Florida Gators won four in a row from 2015-2018.
Denver was led in net by sophomore goalkeeper Emelia Bohi, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament—the first Big East keeper to win the award since Loyola’s Kerry Stoothoff in 2012. In a defensive-focused game, Bohi outdueled UConn counterpart Landyn White by making 13 saves and stopping six-of-eight free-position shots. She also added three ground balls.
The Pioneers forced the Huskies into 18 turnovers—10 of them caused—and had a 16-5 edge in draw controls. Junior Abby Jenkins won seven draws, graduate student Trinity McPherson earned five and senior Sam Thacker had three. Junior Bryn McCaughey led DU’s defensive unit with five ground balls and five caused turnovers, the latter of which was a career high.
Denver had five players on the Big East All-Tournament Team, as graduate student Gracie DeRose and senior Julia Gilbert joined Bohi, McCaughey and Thacker on the squad.
Gilbert led DU offensively with a game-high four goals and 12 shots, and junior Sloane Kipp and freshman Ryan Dineen also had four-point performances with two goals and two assists apiece. Seniors Charlotte Boote and Ellie Curry and sophomore Mollie Estepp also scored in the contest.
Just like in Friday’s semifinal against Villanova, the opposition tallied first on the Pios. UConn led 1-0 for most of the first quarter before Boote connected on a free-position attempt with 33 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
Tied 2-2 early in the second, Estepp sparked a four-goal run by tallying off a pass from Dineen during a player-up situation for the Pioneers, who went on to take a 6-3 lead into halftime. Estepp’s tally was also the start of an 8-2 run for Denver, which outscored UConn 5-2 in the second quarter and 3-1 in the third.
DU outshot Connecticut by a 39-26 overall margin, including firing 12 shots in each of the final two quarters.
White made 19 saves in net for the Huskies, who received two goals from Kate Shaffer. Grace Coon, Lia Laprise and Madelyn George also found the back of the net for UConn.
Sunday’s outing was a rematch of the 2021 Big East Championship Game, which saw Denver down Connecticut 13-7 in Washington, D.C. The Pios, who won 16-15 in overtime in last year’s final against Georgetown in Denver, were playing in their ninth consecutive conference title contest and sixth straight in the Big East.
The win secured a berth into next week’s NCAA Tournament for the Pioneers, who presently rank fifth in the national RPI.
UP NEXT: DU will learn its opponent and see if it hosts the first two rounds of the national tournament this evening (Sunday) during the NCAA Selection Show at 7 p.m. MT on ESPNU. The First Round of the tournament is Friday, May 12 and the Second Round is Sunday, May 14.
- Denver is now 10-0 all-time against UConn and is 3-0 in the Big East Tournament.
- The Pioneers’ previous conference titles were in 2021 and 2022 in the Big East and in 2014 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
- Denver stretched its program-record winning streak to 19 games in a row
- Sam Thacker was named to the Big East All-Tournament Team for the third consecutive season, while Julia Gilbert was named to it for the second straight year.
- Julia Gilbert scored her 15th free-position goal of the season, moving into a tie for third place with Julia Feiss (2018) for the most in a single campaign in school history.
- Gilbert’s four goals were tied for the ninth-most in a conference tournament game in school history (13 times previously).
- Emelia Bohi’s 13 saves were tied for the fourth-most in a conference tournament contest.
- DU improved to 9-3 all-time in the Big East Tournament and 19-17 all-time in conference tournaments. The Pioneers are now 3-3 against host teams in such tournaments.
- Bryn McCaughey’s five ground balls were tied for the sixth-most in a conference tourney outing.
- DU’s 16 draw controls were tied for the fifth-most in a conference tournament game, while its 10 caused turnovers were tied for the eight-most.
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