Denver, fresh off of a trip to Championship Weekend in 2014, will enter 2015 with the rest of Division I gunning to decapitate college lacrosse's newest power program. Inside Lacrosse named Denver its preseason number one in its 2015 edition of Face-Off Yearbook:
The Denver Pioneers have been selected by the Inside Lacrosse staff as the No. 1 team in the country heading into the season. It’s the first No. 1 Face-Off Yearbook ranking for the Pioneers, who have been to the Final Four three times in four years.
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"We’d like to think that by now, we are mainstream enough that we would be no different than if it were any other team. But, like some of our other recent accomplishments, I suppose being ranked No. 1 the 'first time' is noteworthy. It is a result of a lot of hard work by our players and coaches, a history of winning seasons, and building the kind of culture that young men want to be a part of. Although this took a few years to create, it is now being recognized," coach Bill Tierney said.
Inside Lacrosse notes that Notre Dame was in the conversation to earn the top spot in the publication. It's highly likely that when the preseason coaches and media polls are released that the Pioneers and Irish will feature prominently in the top two positions in both measures.
The Pioneers approach the coming spring losing only around 20 percent of its starts from 2014, with only two of those departing starters -- Jeremy Noble and Teddy MacKenzie -- having started at least 17 games last spring. With a loaded offense (including Maryland transfer Connor Cannizzaro), an anchor in the cage in Ryan LaPlante, and a host of other assets with experience in big spots, the Pios are built to make a move in 2015 to potentially corral the first national championship for the relatively young program.