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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #7 Denver Pioneers

The Pios continued their dominance out west for another season, but were stopped by Albany in the quarterfinals.

Carol MacKay

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete and fall ball just around the corner, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series this week with Syracuse, Virginia, Notre Dame, and Cornell.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#7 Denver Pioneers

Conference: Big East
2018 Record: 13-4 (5-0 in Big East play)
Postseason: Defeated Marquette in Big East semifinal, lost to Georgetown in Big East championship, defeated Notre Dame in NCAA First Round, lost to Albany in NCAA Quarterfinal
Head coach: Bill Tierney (9th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Ethan Walker (48)
Assists: Austin French (31)
Points: Ethan Walker (70)
Faceoffs: Trevor Baptiste (279-of-375; 74.4%)
Ground balls: Trevor Baptiste (163)
Caused turnovers: Dylan Gaines (22)
Goals against average: Josh Matte (6.80 GAA)
Save percentage: Alex Ready (50.3%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: FOGO Trevor Baptiste (74.4% faceoff draws, 163 GBs, 8 Gs, 2 As), A Colton McCaffrey (13 Gs, 10 As), M Joe Reid (15 Gs, 3 As), LSM Sean Mayle (27 GBs, 6 CTs, 5 Gs, 1 A), M Connor Donahue (6 Gs, 3 As), SSDM Zach Runberg (26 GBs, 3 CTs, 4 Gs, 2 As), SSDM Nick Phillips (8 GBs, 2 CTs, 1 G, 2 As), D/LSM Matt Jones (4 GBs, 2 CTs), M Connor Flynn (4 Gs), M Jeremy Bosher (1 G)
Senior scoring departing: 114 of 307 points (37.1%)
Senior starts lost: 41 of 170 (24.1%)

Season Summary

It was the same old song and dance for Bill Tierney and the Pioneers in 2018. They took care of business and ended up back in the NCAA quarterfinals, but couldn’t get the job done against Albany.

They began the season with an easy win over Air Force before heading off to Durham to take on Duke. The Pios led by four goals at the end of the third quarter and looked like they would have their second victory of the year. But the Blue Devils managed to score seven goals in the final 15 minutes to take a three-goal win. After wins over Cleveland State, Furman, and North Carolina, Denver fell behind in the first quarter to Notre Dame in a 6-1 deficit. They managed to come back in the second half and cut the Fighting Irish lead to one, but Bryan Costabile scored another insurance goal to give Notre Dame a big win at home.

Head coach Bill Tierney went with a change in goal for the Ohio State game, replacing junior Alex Ready with sophomore Josh Matte. The Pios scored nine straight goals in the middle of the game, including all five goals in the third quarter, to take care of the defending national runner-ups at Peter Barton Stadium. They faced another scare from Towson the following week as the Tigers tied the game up with two goals in the final 2:45 of regulation. But junior Colin Rutan scored the overtime tally to give Denver another good win as they entered Big East play. It was a very low-scoring affair in their conference opener against Georgetown, but a three-goal fourth quarter with Rutan scoring another game-winner proved to be the difference maker in that meeting.

The Pios went through the rest of Big East play without a hiccup, starting with a 22-goal outburst against Villanova. Ethan Walker had eight of those tallies. They also scored in double-digits against St. John’s and Providence before beating Marquette by three to enter the Big East Tournament as the top seed. After another three-goal win against the Golden Eagles in the conference semifinals, Denver was once again denied a Big East Championship. This time it came against Georgetown in an 8-3 loss. With Ready back as the starting goaltender, Denver used another three-goal run in the final quarter to beat Notre Dame at Arlotta Stadium to advance to the quarterfinals and face Albany. Despite Trevor Baptiste splitting faceoff draws with TD Ierlan, the Pioneers started the game down three goals and would eventually fall by two.

Walker, junior Austin French, and senior Colton McCaffrey started all 17 games at attack this past season. Walker finished the season with 70 points while French was 10 off. Rutan was the team’s fourth attackman while freshman Riley Curtis played a role on the team’s man-up unit. Junior Colton Jackson started all 17 games on the first midfield and paced that unit with 23 points. He was joined by a number of middies throughout the season, including seniors Connor Donahue and Joe Reid as well as freshman Ted Sullivan. The second unit consisted of senior Connor Flynn, juniors Nate Marano and Quinn McKone, sophomore Kyle Smith, and senior Jeremy Bosher and junior Drew Supinski for part of the season.

Like the attack unit, the starting close defense group started in all 17 games led by junior Dylan Gaines. Fellow junior Dylan Johnson and sophomore Colin Squires started alongside Gaines and helped the Pioneers be the third-best scoring defense in the nation. Senior Matt Jones was the team’s fourth defenseman but also saw time as an LSM. Senior Sean Mayle played in the first eight games of the season before he was rules academically ineligible. Jones and junior Jon Ober saw more playing time with that loss. Seniors Nick Phillips and Zach Runberg, along with sophomore Danny Logan, were the primary short stick defensive midfielders. With Baptiste dominating at the faceoff X, Ready and Matte split time in goal this season.

Looking Ahead

The good news is that all three starting attackmen and close defensemen are back, along with both goalies and plenty of Denver’s contributing midfielders except for Nate Marano, who isn’t listed on the team’s current roster. It also appears former Maryland Terrapins LSM Matt Neufeldt will spend his fifth-year with the program, which will help at the long-stick position.

The bad news is that Trevor Baptiste is done. Who will Denver turn to? Ryan Harnisch went 2-of-3 last season while Sean Penna went 1-of-4. Not a ton of experience there, but it will certainly be interesting to see how Tierney adjusts to life without a dominant faceoff taker, unless someone steps up in a huge way. The goalie battle will also be something to watch with both netminders splitting time last season. Might we see a set-up similar to what Denver had a few years ago with Ryan LaPlante and Jamie Faus splitting halves? And how will the shot clock change Denver’s offense, if it even will?

Here’s who the Pioneers will be adding to their roster for next year.

Denver’s Official Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Ty Badciong Midfield Lake Travis (TX)
Brett Boos Midfield/FO Chaparral (CO)
Carter Brand Midfield Hill Academy (ON)
Dante Bravo Defense Bellarmine Prep (CA)
William Clayton Midfield Culver (IN)
Josh Dawick Attack Appleby College (ON)
Sam Dwinell Midfield Middlesex School (MA)
Drew Erickson Attack San Ramon Valley (CA)
Cole French Goalie San Ramon Valley (CA)
Ellis Geis Attack Foothill (CA)
Jackson Harvey Midfield/FO Arapahoe (CO)
Matthew Marino Midfield Bellevue (WA)
Johnny Marrocco Attack St. Xavier (OH)
Colby Moore Defense Grandview (CO)
Alex Simmons Midfield Culver (IN)
Austin Stewart Midfield St. Stephen's & St. Agnes (VA)
Kaleb Stroman Goalie Legend (CO)
Ben Williams Defense/LSM St. John's College (DC)

Poll

How many wins will Denver get in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    0-8
    (2 votes)
  • 25%
    9-10
    (11 votes)
  • 48%
    11-12
    (21 votes)
  • 20%
    13+
    (9 votes)
43 votes total Vote Now