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Big East Lacrosse Tournament: Denver Drubs Villanova, 14-7, for Big East Title

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The Pioneers took control in the second half and lit the Wildcats up.

Drew Hallowell

The ridiculous debate over Denver's NCAA Tournament candidacy is moot thanks to the Pioneers' 14-7 annihilation of Villanova at Villanova Stadium. Denver asserted itself over the final 30 minutes of the game, stringing together eight consecutive goals before the Wildcats were able to find twine late in regulation. The win marks an unblemished run through the Big East for the Pioneers, fulfilling the expectations of the program in its new league following Denver's departure from the ECAC at the close of the 2013 season.

The first half featured back and forth scoring, with Villanova earning an early two-goal lead until Denver went on a three-goal run -- the spurt started with a Mike Riis goal in transition off of a Garret Host assist and ended with a Harrison Archer exclamation point -- that spanned the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, a push that took 7:38. The Pioneers appeared to have momentum in their favor -- the genesis to many of Denver's shellackings this season -- but Villanova did not bow: A beautiful man-up goal from Matt McIver that resulted from Kevin O'Neil deftly moving the ball around the box knotted the game at five; Jack Bobzien batted in a loose airball out of a scrum to temporarily give Denver a 6-5 lead 3:13 after McIver's bucket, but Thomas Croonquist -- on the ensuing faceoff that he won to himself -- locked up the scoreboard at six with 1:54 remaining in the half.

It would be the last goal that Villanova would score for 30:26, a drought that was exploited by Denver to the tune of eight unanswered goals. It was the onslaught that was anticipated when the Pios had their three-goal pop between the first and second periods, and there was little that the Wildcats could do to stop from bleeding out on the field. The gruesome nature of the 30-plus minute stretch offers little mitigation to the dominance that Denver exhibited:

THE DELUGE: 30:26 OF MURDER
METRIC VILLANOVA DENVER
Goals 0 8
Shots (Shots on Goal) 10 (5) 27 (15)
Turnovers 5 8
Saves For 7 5
Offensive Opportunities 13 18
Shooting Percentage 0.00% 29.63%
Raw Offensive Efficiency 0.00 44.44
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 38.46 44.44
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 38.89 38.46
Team Save Percentage 46.67% 100.00%

The third quarter was the bloodiest part of the definitive stretch in the game: Zach Miller scored three straight goals in the period -- two were unassisted -- and gave Denver an insurmountable 9-6 lead; Miller then fed Tyler Pace on the crease for an easy finish to increase the Pioneers' lead to four; and Jack Bobzien then stuck a knife through Villanova's chest with 1:17 remaining in the quarter on a diving goal in a flag-down scenario (a posture that started with a defensive takeaway at the far end of the field, further incinerating the Wildcats' hopes for a comeback).

TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE

TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE: VILLANOVA v. DENVER
METRIC VILLANOVA DENVER
Possession Margin -10 +10
Raw Offensive Efficiency 33.33 45.16
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 29.17% 33.33%
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.14 1.35
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 47.62 45.16
Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Possessions 17.31 44.23
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 41.94 38.10
Team Save Percentage 48.15% 53.33%