No. 5 Denver Downs USC 10-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round
DENVER – The No. 5 University of Denver women’s lacrosse team defeated the Southern California Trojans 10-7 on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Peter Barton Stadium.
Hosting their first-ever NCAA Regional games at home, the Pioneers (20-0) used four fourth-quarter goals to break a tie and advance to the second round. DU will host the winner of Friday night’s game between Virginia and Albany on Sunday at 1 p.m. MT.
Sophomore Lauren Black had three goals and one assist and freshman Ryan Dineen also had a four-point performance with two goals and two assists. Senior Julia Gilbert joined Black with a trio of markers as well for her 11th hat trick of the season. Senior Ellie Curry and sophomore Caroline Colimore also found the back of the net in the contest.
“I’m proud of this victory today,” said Denver head coach Liza Kelly. “I thought USC was an incredibly tough draw in the first round. They are a great team, they’re well-coached, aggressive, so I was real proud of us to come out on top. Faced some adversity in the third quarter and fought through it and proved why we deserved to be the higher seed this weekend.”
Goalkeeper Emelia Bohi made five saves, guiding Denver’s defense to another single-digit, goals-against performance. DU has yet to allow more than nine goals in any of its 20 wins on the year.
Denver scored the game’s first six goals and led 6-1 at halftime. Black tallied her three markers consecutively late in the first and early in the second quarters.
USC responded by scoring six unanswered itself, five of which were in the third stanza, and tied the contest at 6-6 entering the final frame.
Gilbert led the Pioneers’ offense by scoring all three of her goals in the fourth, including forcing a turnover and scoring into a gaping net with 2:33 remaining to push DU’s lead to three.
“I just rode hard and saw the back of the net once I got that check, and I knew we were all going to be celebrating after,” Gilbert said. “The attack did a great job.”
The women of Troy outshot the Pios 24-21 overall in the game. Christina Gagnon had three tallies and Isabelle Vitale had a goal and two assists. Goalkeeper Kait Devir stopped five shots.
Denver’s defense was led by graduate student defender Trinity McPherson, who compiled five ground balls, three caused turnovers and two draw controls. Senior Sam Thacker had three caused turnovers, three draw controls and two ground balls, and both Curry and Megan Klingenberg grabbed four loose balls.
The Pioneers finished with a 13-8 edge in draw controls, with DU junior Abby Jenkins recording a game-high seven draws.
DU is in the national tournament for a fifth straight season and has never not reached Round 2. The Pios are looking to make the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second time in their history and first since 2019
UP NEXT: Denver will play the winner of the game between Virginia and Albany in the second round on Sunday at 1 p.m. MT at Peter Barton Stadium. Tickets are available at DenverPioneers.com.
- Denver is now 5-4 all-time against USC, as the teams were meeting for the first time the 2019 first round of the NCAA Tournament. DU is 3-2 in postseason outing against SC.
- Peter Barton Stadium was hosting its first women’s lacrosse national tournament contest, but DU’s home had served as a host site for seven previous first-round games in the men’s lacrosse championships.
- Denver stretched its program-record winning streak to 20 games in a row. The team is the only undefeated squad in the nation.
- The Pioneers have never played Virginia and has only faced Albany once.
- Abby Jenkins’ seven draw controls were tied for the third-most in an NCAA game in school history.
- Trinity McPherson’s five ground balls are tied for the third-most in a tournament contest.
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