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2015 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament: Denver Pounds Brown, 15-9

The Pioneers have progressed to yet another quarterfinals appearance.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Brown v. (4) Denver

Denver took a 1-0 lead just seven seconds into the game and never trailed Brown in a surgical 15-9 dissection of the Bears at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. The win propels the Pioneers to Mile High Stadium where Denver will "host" Ohio State in a callback to the Great Western Lacrosse League. Brown ends its season with a 12-5 record. Connor Cannizzaro led the Pios with five tallies on six shots on goal while Ryan LaPlante turned away 16 shots and held a 64.00 save percentage. Dan Molly had three goals for Bruno and Jack Kelly registered nine saves in a performance that merited the keeper a 37.50 save percentage.

Denver piled on Brown in the game's first 30 minutes, earning a 10-2 advantage at the break. The Pioneers were plus-five in estimated possession margin and converted on almost 53 percent of their 19 estimated first half offensive opportunities. The combination of a defensive crisis -- Denver shot 41.67 percent in the first two quarters -- and an estimated possession deficit was exactly what Bruno needed to avoid to run with one of the most efficient teams in the nation: Forced to chase, the inefficiency of the Bears' attack created difficult circumstances to overcome. Brown deposited markers on only around 12 percent of their 17 estimated offensive opportunities in the first and second quarters, shooting 6.90 percent while committing turnovers on over a third of the team's estimated possessions. LaPlante contributed to Bruno's woes -- the keeper stopped over 86 percent of the Bears' shots that breached his save radius -- but the inability of Brown to generate stops and create preferential scoring situations in transition doomed Bruno in a game where stylistic dominance figured to factor heavily into the result.

The second half was a more balanced affair, even though the Bears outscored the Pios 7-5 in the final half hour. Bruno erased its estimated possession deficit -- the team was plus-four in the second half -- and shot 35.00 percent, building the team's offensive efficiency in the final two periods to just north of 43 percent. In a virtual mirror of Brown's effort after the intermission, Denver shot just shy of 36 percent and held an efficiency rate of just south of 42 percent in the last half. Playing square with Denver down the stretch, however, wasn't what Brown required to mount a sustained charge at the fourth-seeded team in the tournament: Brown needed to exceed Denver's output on a possession-to-possession basis, and without a gigantic estimated possession margin and a defensive effort concomitant with what the Pioneers' defense did to Brown in the first half, Bruno was merely altering the aesthetics of Denver's final scoring surplus. This principle was realized as the final gun was sounded: Despite Brown's revitalization, Bruno did not even match Denver's first half production.

Score 9 15
Estimated Possession Margin +2 (33) -2 (31)
Estimated Raw Offensive Efficiency 37.21 26.83
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 27.27% 48.39%
Estimated Turnover Rate 33.33 41.94
Team Save Percentage 37.50% 64.00%