PREVIEW: No. 5 DU Faces UAlbany in NCAA Second Round on Sunday
DENVER – The No. 5 University of Denver women’s lacrosse team looks to secure a spot in the national quarterfinals on Sunday as the Pioneers host the University at Albany Great Danes in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Peter Barton Stadium.
Game time is at 1 p.m. MT, and it will be broadcasted on ESPN+. Tickets are available at DenverPioneers.com.
DU has reached the quarterfinals once before in its history when it defeated host and No. 8 seed Michigan in Round 2 of the 2019 tournament. Denver or UAlbany will play the winner of No. 4 North Carolina and Richmond at the higher seed’s campus in the elite eight on Thursday, May 18.
The Pioneers advanced to Round 2 with a 10-7 victory on Friday afternoon against the Southern California Trojans. DU scored the game’s first six goals and then tallied four times in the fourth quarter after USC went on a 6-0 run to knot the contest heading into the final stanza.
Senior Julia Gilbert and sophomore Lauren Black both had three goals, and Black also had an assist and was joined with a four-point performance from freshman Ryan Dineen (two goals, two assists),
The Great Danes pulled off the only upset on the first day of the women’s college lacrosse championships with 16-14 comeback victory against the Virginia Cavaliers. UAlbany used a 13-4 run to finish the contest to flip a 10-3 deficit into the program’s second NCAA Tournament victory in its history.
Denver and UAlbany have only met once prior in its history, as the Pioneers fell 11-10 in a neutral-site game in Owings Mills, Maryland on March 28, 2010.
This weekend marks the first time in DU women’s lacrosse history that the program is hosting regional games at Peter Barton Stadium.
LAST TIME OUT: Denver used a four-goal fourth quarter to break a 6-6 tie and win 10-7 against Southern California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at Peter Barton Stadium. The Pioneers scored the game’s first six goals before the Trojans went on their own 6-0 run, including tallying five in the third quarter.
Julia Gilbert tallied a hat trick in the fourth quarter for DU after Lauren Black scored three goals in the first half. Ryan Dineen had four points with two goals and two assists, and goalkeeper Emelia Bohi made five saves.
- Denver is now 5-4 all-time against USC after the teams were playing for the first time since the 2019 first round of the NCAA Tournament. DU is 3-2 in postseason outings against SC.
- DU earned its first 20-win season in program history. The program’s previous high was a 19-2 campaign in 2014.
- Abby Jenkins’ seven draw controls were tied for the third-most in an NCAA game in school history.
- Ryan Dineen had her seventh four-point game of the year and has recorded at least four points in five of the last six contests.
- Sloane Kipp had her nine-game goal/point streak end (23g/8a).
- Julia Gilbert has 53 goals on the year, tied for the 10th most in a season in school history. She now has 134 goals in her career, tying Kristie Leggio and Quintin Hoch-Bullen for the ninth most on the program’s all-time list
- Trinity McPherson matched a season high with five ground balls and now has 56 on the season, tied for the seventh-most in a campaign in program history. Her five loose balls were tied for the third-most in an NCAA game in school history.
- Bryn McCaughey has 36 caused turnovers, 10th most in a season in school history.
TRINITY FITTING RIGHT IN: In her first season at DU, defender Trinity McPherson has already made a mark in the school’s record books. McPherson has 56 ground balls this season, the seventh-most in a campaign and the most by a DU player since Kate Henrich’s 65 in 2013 (Record: 66 by Tanya Fuchs, 2006).
The graduate student also has 34 caused turnovers—the 12th-most in a season—and has the 15th-most draw controls in a campaign with 54.
McPherson, who transferred from Johns Hopkins after taking a gap year, is one of four players in the NCAA with at least 50 ground balls and 50 draw controls, joining Rutgers’ Meghan Ball (51 GB, 101 DC), George Washington’s Stella Ray (60 GB, 59 DC) and Sacred Heart’s Claire McElhenny (52 GB, 64 DC).
30-FOR-30-FOR-30: The Pioneers are the only program in the country with three players having recorded at least 30 caused turnovers this season, as senior Sam Thacker leads the team with 49, junior Bryn McCaughey is second with 36 and graduate student Trinity McPherson is third with 34.
This is the first time in school history that DU has three players with 30+ caused turnovers. Overall, only four other Division-I teams this year have two players with 30-plus caused turnovers: Campbell, Fairfield, Gardner-Webb and USC.
GILBERT AT THE 8-METER: Senior Julia Gilbert has scored 16 free-position goals this season, tied with Kristie Leggio (2007) for the second-most in a single campaign in program history. The program record is 17 in 2010 by Ali Flury.
Ranking 33rd overall in the country in tallies per game from the eight-meter (0.79), Gilbert’s .696 free-position percentage (16-for-23) is the fifth-best in the nation.
Freshman Ryan Dineen and sophomore Lauren Black both have 13 free position goals on the year and rank tied for eighth with Ali Flury for the most in a single campaign. Dineen ranks behind Gilbert in free-position percentage on the team (and in the conference) and 12th in the NCAA at 62.0 percent (13-for-21).
TOURNAMENT GAMES AT PETER BARTON: DU’s first-round game on Friday against Southern California marked the first ever women’s lacrosse national tournament contest at Peter Barton Stadium. The Pioneer women are hosting a regional for the first time in school history.
The University of Denver has previously hosted seven first round games in the men’s lacrosse tournament, and the school served as a neutral-site host at nearby Empower Field at Mile High for the 2015 men’s second round.
IN THE NATIONAL TOURNAMENT: The Pioneers are in the NCAA Tournament for a fifth straight year and the seventh time in program history. DU, which secured an automatic bid by winning the Big East Tournament, has advanced to at least the second round in each of its previous six appearances and reached the quarterfinals in 2019 vs. No. 1 Maryland.
Denver owns an 8-6 all-time record in the national tournament. The Pioneers defeated Vermont 16-3 in Round 1 last year before falling to 2021 champion and 2022 runner-up Boston College 13-8 in the second round.
This is the first time in program history that DU earned a national seed and is hosting the first two rounds of the tournament.
SCOUTING THE GREAT DANES: UAlbany advanced the second round with 16-14 win over Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night in Denver. The Great Danes rallied from a 10-3 deficit by using a 13-4 run to close out the game. Sarah Falk scored seven goals and Katie Pascale joined her with a seven-point performance with four goals and three assists. Goalkeeper Grace Cincebox made seven saves. UAlbany is 13-6 on the season and are champions of the America East Conference regular season and postseason. The Great Danes went 6-0 in league play during the year and defeated Binghamton 14-13 in the conference title game last weekend at home. Falk leads the team with 68 goals and is second in points with 74. Pascale is the leading scorer with 89 points with 49 goals and 40 assists and is also first with 137 draw controls. Shonly Wallace has also eclipsed the half-century mark in tallies (51) and has added five assists for 56 points. Bryar Hogg is tied for third in scoring with 56 points as well (26g/30a). McKenzie Beam is first in ground balls (39) and tied for first with 16 caused turnovers with Pascale. Grace Cincebox has played in 14 games this year in net—starting eight—and has a 7-1 record, 13.24 goals-against average and .368 save percentage. Aislinn Sweeney has started 11 of the 12 contests she’s played in and has a 4-5 record, 15.34 goals-against average and .343 save percentage.
LAST TIME VS. UALBANY (March 28, 2010): Kara Secora had a hat trick and three assists, but the Pioneers were edged 11-10 by UAlbany in a neutral-site game in Owings Mills, Maryland. The Great Danes jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead before the Pioneers rallied with four goals to tie the game heading into halftime. After Albany scored to open the second half, Lexi Sanders scored a pair of goals to give Denver its first lead of the game. However, Albany responded with a 4-1 and did not relinquish the lead. Tulley Stapp scored three goals for the Pioneers, while Sanders added an assist to her two goals. Ali Flury scored a goal to extend her nation-leading streak of consecutive games with at least one point to 62 games.
CONNECTIONS: Denver goalkeeper Skyler Constantino is from New York (Syracuse) … Junior Bryar Hoagg (Oshawa) and senior Mackenzie Beam (Brooklin) and DU redshirt-sophomore Raegan Wilson (injured) are all from Ontario, Canada, and Hoagg and Wilson both attended The Hill Academy in Ontario … Denver Associate Head Coach Brice Queener previously coached at The Hill Academy … Queener is from Pan Yan, New York, and was also previously an assistant coach at Siena and Binghamton … Denver Head Coach Liza Kelly is a former coach in the America East Conference as she coached Boston University for five years before joining DU prior to the 2007 campaign.
PARTY ON PETEY B: Denver is 8-0 at Peter Barton Stadium this season and is on an 11-game winning streak on its own turf dating back to April 30, 2022. The Pioneers own a 36-3 record in their last 39 contests at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium (since start of 2019) and are 50-6 in home games since the start of the 2017 campaign. Denver owns a 131-24 all-time record at Barton Stadium, which opened in 2005.
DU had a 21-game home winning streak come to an end last season with a loss vs. then-No. 1 Boston College on March 9, 2022. It was the Pios’ first defeat at Peter Barton Stadium since Feb. 26, 2019 (12-10 loss vs. Michigan).
STREAKING: Denver completed the only undefeated regular season in program history (17-0) and is on a 20-game winning streak, the longest in the school record books. The previous longest winning streak for the program was 17 games in a row from March 5-May 9, 2014. The Pioneers are the only unbeaten squad in the NCAA.
BEST IN THE WEST(AND MIDWEST): The Pioneers had six players named to IWLCA All-West/Midwest Region Teams on Thursday, including four to the First Team. Goalkeeper Emelia Bohi, draw specialist Abby Jenkins and defenders Trinity McPherson and Sam Thacker were selected to the First Team, while midfielder Ellie Curry and attacker Julia Gilbert were chosen to the Second Team.
Denver tied with Northwestern for the most overall (6) and first-team members (4) on the All-Region squad. Only Southern California (3) had more second-team players on the list.
For Thacker, this is the third consecutive season that she’s earned All-Region honors, as she was named to the Second Team as a sophomore in 2021 and the First Team as a junior in 2022. This is McPherson’s second time being named to an All-Region squad, as she was a First-Team All-Mid-Atlantic member as a senior at Johns Hopkins in 2021.
BALANCED SCORING: DU has nine different players with 10 or more goals this season and five with 20-plus markers. The Pioneers’ nine players with 10+ goals tie the 2021 squad for the most in a single season in program history, while their players with 20 or more markers are two shy of matching the school record of seven in 2013. Overall, 16 different players have tallied at least once this season.
The Pios have scored double-digit goals in each of the last 13 games and are outscoring opponents by an average score of 13.7-5.8 in that span since March 9 (178-75 total). DU’s overall margin of victory this season is 7.0, the sixth-highest in the country.
DOMINANT D: The Pioneers entered the weekend ranked first in the country in scoring defense by allowing just 5.84 goals per game, the lowest since 2016 when Southern California allowed 5.81 goals per game. Loyola was second at 6.63 and James Madison was third at 7.28 goals against per game.
Denver hasn’t allowed double-digit goals in any of its 20 games this season, as the season-high against is nine by UConn on April 8.
The Pioneers entered the tournament second in the country in caused turnovers per game at 12.58 (Campbell, 14.11) and have recorded double-digit CTs in 19-of-20 games, including in each of the first 12 outings of the season to set a school record to begin a campaign (previous: 11 in 2021). DU is third in the NCAA in draw controls percentage at 62.7 percent.
Sam Thacker is sixth in the country and first in the Big East in caused turnovers at 2.42 per game. Bryn McCaughey is 27th in the nation and second in the conference at 1.84 per game. Trinity McPherson ranks fourth in the Big East and 50th nationally by forcing 1.63 turnovers per outing.
THACKER PART OF ELITE 40-40-30 CLUB: Defender Sam Thacker is one of six players in the nation that have recorded at least 40 caused turnovers, 40 ground balls and 30 draw controls entering this week’s games.
Thacker has as team-high 49 caused turnovers and has picked up 48 ground balls and 36 draw controls this year. She is joined Rutgers’ Meghan Ball (60 CT, 51 GB, 101 DC), Maryland’s Abby Bosco (40 CT, 40 GB, 91 DC), Niagara’s Sydney Huhtala (41 CT, 45 GB, 39 DC), Mercer’s Emma Pizzo (41 CT, 47 GB, 52 DC) and Iona’s Kira Varada (40 CT, 44 GB, 70 DC) as the only players in the country to reach each of those benchmarks entering the week.
USA LAX MAGAZINE ALL-AMERICANS: Six Pioneers were recognized as USA Lacrosse Magazine All-Americans, the publications released on Tuesday. Sam Thacker led the group by being named to the First Team, while Julia Gilbert and Trinity McPherson were both named to the Second Team. Emelia Bohi, Ellie Curry and Bryn McCaughey were chosen as Honorable Mentions.
BIG EAST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS, AGAIN: The Pioneers won their third consecutive conference tournament and became the first Big East squad to accomplish the feat since the Florida Gators won four in a row from 2015-2018. Overall, it was DU’s fourth such conference title as the school also won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament in 2013 in addition to the Big East championships in 2021 and 2022.
Denver improved to 9-3 all-time in the Big East Tournament and 19-17 overall in conference tournaments that also include contests in the MPSF and Mountain Pacific Lacrosse League. The Pioneers have reached the conference championship game in each of the last 10 years (since 2013), including the last six in the Big East.
The Pios also won the Big East’s regular-season championship, earning the trophy for the fourth-straight year (2019, 2021, 2022, 2023). It was the Pioneers’ 10th such regular-season title, as they had also won six such championships in the MPSF in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014. DU joined the Big East starting in the 2017 campaign.
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