No. 5 Denver Punches its First Ticket to Championship Weekend
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The No. 5 University of Denver women’s lacrosse team is heading to its first NCAA Final Four in program history after defeating the No. 4 North Carolina Tar Heels 5-4 on Thursday evening at Dorrance Field on the UNC campus.
Denver will play No. 1 Northwestern in the Final Four on Friday, May 26 at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The National Championship Game is Sunday, May 28.
The Pioneers rallied from a 4-1 deficit with four consecutive goals, and the top-ranked defense in the country held UNC scoreless in the second half. Graduate student Kayla DeRose and senior Julia Gilbert both tallied twice during the four-goal run.
DeRose started and ended Denver’s four-goal run, as she scored with 2:03 remaining in the second quarter and then tallied the game-winner with 6:31 left to play. Gilbert scored off a feed from Ryan Dineen at 9:08 of the third quarter and then buried her 18th free-position goal of the season at 8:12 of the fourth to even the game.
Dineen scored the game-opening tally for Denver just 54 seconds into the first quarter.
North Carolina had possession and a free-position attempt with 1:43 remaining in the outing, but the Tar Heels’ pass-out of the attempt was intercepted by senior defender Sam Thacker to give the Pios the ball for nearly all of the remainder of the contest.
DU recorded 15 caused turnovers to UNC’s nine, as Thacker finished with three ground balls, three caused turnovers and one draw control. Graduate student Gracie DeRose led the Pioneers with four ground balls while forcing three turnovers and adding one draw control.
Denver goalkeeper Emelia Bohi stopped five shots and also had one ground ball and one caused turnover.
The Pios earned 15 of the 20 ground balls in the game, successfully cleared 19-of-21 opportunities and went 1-for-4 on free positions.
UNC outshot DU 15-14 in the contest and received two goals from Reilly Casey and another each from Alyssa Long and Marissa White. Tar Heels goalie Alecia Nichols made seven saves.
The victory marked the Pioneers’ second, 5-4 victory of the year, as the team also won by that score in the season-opening contest on Feb. 10 at Louisville.
UP NEXT: The NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Final Four is just 20 minutes away from Chapel Hill in Cary, North Carolina. Times of national semifinal games will be announced in the near future.
- Denver won its first game against North Carolina in program history and is now 1-4 all-time against the Tar Heels.
- DU Head coach Liza Kelly won her 300th career game.
- Julia Gilbert’s free-position goal marked her 18th of the year, breaking Ali Flury’s single-season record of 18 set in 2010.
- Gilbert has now scored in all 22 games this season.
- Kayla DeRose scored her second game-winning goal of the season.
- The Pioneers improved to 10-6 all-time in the national tournament and are now 7-3 in the last 10 games.
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