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NCAA Lacrosse Tournament: Denver Beats Albany, Ropes Were Ripped

Wes Berg had himself a day as did the official scorekeeper.

Rob Carr

There was scoring. And scoring. And scoring. And it came from everywhere all the time, an unrelenting volume of scoreboard blinking that could have been a means to communicate to extraterrestrial beings through flashes of light. It was a constant, almost suffocating, display of offense, a 33-goal effort from both sides. In short, it was a beautiful love letter to unfettered goal scoring at a time of the year when defense tends to take center stage. I want more of it, concentrated for future use and for potential weaponization.

Denver walked away from Peter Barton Stadium with a 19-14 victory, but how the two teams got to that point was a layered experience:

  • The game was back-and-forth through the first 21 minutes or so with the teams locked at five following a Ty Thompson tally at the 8:56 mark of the second quarter. From that point forward, though, the Pioneers were able to thrive in a hectic game: Denver used a four-goal run over a four minute span to build a 9-5 lead at the 1:29 mark of the second quarter; the Great Danes were able to draw within 9-7 following a late goal just before intermission from Miles Thompson and an unassisted tally from Tim Cox early in the third period; the teams then danced around each other for most of the third quarter until the explosion happened -- leading 12-10 with 2:55 remaining in the third, Denver created the cushion that Albany couldn't come back from, getting three goals in the final two minutes of the third period and a fourth just 50 seconds into the final period. The Pioneers' 16-10 lead was the end; Albany drew within three goals late (17-14 with 9:45 remaining), but Denver had, at that point, all but put the game away.
  • Big offensive players had big offensive games. The Thompson Trio combined for 14 points on the day (Miles (1G, 5A), Lyle (4G, 1A), and Ty (3G)), serving -- as always -- as the pivot for the Great Danes' offensive efforts while only turning the ball over five times as a group. Denver's offensive weapons would not be outdone, though: Eric Law had a terrific game with four goals and an assist on just six shots; Wes Berg was the detonator on the day, registering eight goals -- in as many ways as you can possibly imagine -- and chipping in an assist on just 12 shots; Cam Flint had four goals and ran past his man all damn day (especially in the second half); and freshman Gordie Koerber was unfazed in a big moment and put together a three-assist performance (all of his helpers went to Berg).
  • Denver held a plus-six advantage in offensive opportunities on the day, but that wasn't the only reason that the Pioneers were able to pull away. In fact, Denver's turnover rate on the day erodes a little bit of the possession margin that the Pioneers were able to generate on the day (in other words, Denver's offense could have actually generated even more scoring had it played a little stronger with the ball). What built the cushion was a combination of some empty possessions from Albany -- thanks to heroic efforts from Jamie Faus and Ryan LaPlante in the crease and Denver's field defense doing just enough to control the Danes' offense -- and the Pioneers (1) abusing Blaze Riorden in the net and (2) oftentimes having its way with Albany's defense, winning its one-one-one matchups and slinging the ball all over the attack box to find teammates in preferable scoring postures. In short, the possession margin helped Denver, but the Pioneers put together a more balanced effort on both ends of the field (if that's possible in this type of game) compared to what the Great Danes were able to achieve.

Denver moves on to face North Carolina next weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. The scoreboard will, once again, flash with madness at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here's a truncated tempo-free box score:

Denver-Albany: Truncated Tempo-Free Box Score
Metric Denver Albany
Offensive Efficiency (per 100 Offensive Opportunities) 43.75 50.00
Offensive Opportunities 32 38
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.25 1.05
Offensive Shooting Percentage 35.00% 47.50%
Turnovers (per 100 Offensive Opportunities) 37.50 50.00
Caused Turnovers (per 100 Defensive Opportunities) 36.84 25.00
Unforced Turnovers (per 100 Offensive Opportunities) 12.50 13.16
Team Save Percentage 38.71% 51.72%
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 31.58 46.88