Women's Lacrosse

No. 5 Denver’s Historic Season Comes to an End in National Semifinals


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CARY, N.C. – The No. 5 University of Denver women’s lacrosse team dropped its only game of the season on Friday afternoon, falling 15-7 to the No. 1 Northwestern Wildcats in the NCAA National Semifinals at WakeMed Soccer Park.  
“Only one team wins at the end of the year, and Northwestern played a great game,” said Denver head coach Liza Kelly. “I’m just so proud of everything this team has done, in particular the senior class. They have led us every step of the way with their heart, their work, their passion, their love for all things Denver, and they have left an incredible legacy behind them.”
Graduate student Kayla DeRose netted her second hat trick of the season and the fourth of her career as Denver’s only multi-goal scorer in the outing. Seniors Ellie Curry and Julia Gilbert, junior Sloane Kipp and freshman Ryan Dineen also tallied in the contest.
Graduate students Gracie DeRose and Trinity McPherson and junior Bryn McCaughey each had two caused turnovers apiece. Junior Abby Jenkins led the Pioneers in the draw circle with five controls, while senior Sam Thacker had a team-high four ground balls and added four draws.  
Sophomore goalkeeper Emelia Bohi made four saves for DU as the Wildcats outshot the Pioneers 31-24 in the game.
Denver got on the board first off the stick of Kipp, her 30th goal of the season. After a stop from both defenses, the nation’s top offense got on the board with Izzy Scane’s 90th of the campaign. Northwestern took a 2-1 lead on the next possession before the Pioneers rattled off three straight to end the first-quarter scoring. Denver got two goals off of rebounds in-tight to flip the margin to a 3-2 Denver lead with 6:55 to play in the opening quarter. Curry dodged around a couple of defenders and switched hands to bury her 32nd of the season and giving the Pioneers the 4-2 lead through 15 minutes of play in Cary.
Scane opened the second-quarter scoring for the Wildcats with 8:16 to go in the frame, breaking a stretch of Denver—the top defense in the country—holding the top offense in the country without a goal in a 16:42 span. Northwestern went on to score four times in the final 8:16 while shutting out the Denver offense on the other end to take a two-goal advantage into the locker room.
Denver broke its own scoring drought to open up the third quarter. Denver’s human clear in McPherson took the ball from three yards off Denver’s defensive endline into the offense critical scoring area before feeding Kayla DeRose for her 18th goal of the season. Northwestern got five straight in response to stretch its lead to 11-5 at the end of the third quarter.   
The Wildcats made it a 13-1 run dating back to the end of the first quarter with four goals in the first 10 minutes of the final frame. Gilbert tallied for the 23 straight game with 2:13 remaining and Kayla DeRose completed the hat trick with 19 seconds left.
Northwestern was led offensively by Scane, who had six goals and two assists. Hailey Rhatigan had four tallies, while Erin Coykendall and Madison Taylor both had two markers as well. Goalkeeper Molly Laliberty was tremendous in net as she stopped eight of DU’s 13 shots on goal on her.
The Pioneers finish the season 22-1. They completed an undefeated regular season, earned a victory in the Elite Eight and reached the NCAA Championship Weekend all for the first time in program history in 2023.


  • Liza Kelly is 236-77 in 17 seasons at Denver and 300-110 in her 22-year career. Kelly signed a contract extension last month to remain the head coach of the Pioneers through the 2028 season. In last week’s national quarterfinal, Kelly became the 13th NCAA Division I head coach to win 300 career games.
  • Denver fell to 10-7 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the quarterfinal stage for the second time in its history this season while Friday’s semifinal was a program first.
  • Gracie DeRose had two caused turnovers to become the fourth Pioneer this season to record more than 25 caused turnovers.
  • Denver finished the year 3-1 against top-five teams in the country.
  • Julia Gilbert stretched her goal streak to 23 games, scoring in each and every game in the 2023 season (59g/8a). Her 59 goals on the season are tied for the fourth-most in a campaign in school history.
  • DU went 0-for-5 on free position goals.
  • Sam Thacker had four ground balls and to move into a tie with Tanya Fuchs (153) for the fifth-most in a career at Denver. Thacker’s 59 ground balls on the year rank seventh most in a season.
  • Bryn McCaughey had two caused turnovers for 40 on the season, the sixth-most by any player in a season at DU.
  • McPherson had two caused turnovers and two draw controls, moving into seventh on Denver’s all-time list in caused turnovers (39) and moving into a tie for ninth in draw controls (62).

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