DU Pioneers beat Albany advance to men’s lacrosse quarterfinals
The Denver Post
Using a ferocious offense to combat the nation’s highest-scoring lacrosse team Saturday, the University of Denver outlasted Albany (N.Y.) 19-14 before a record crowd of 2,621 to advance to the quarterfinals of the men’s NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year.
The No. 4-seeded Pioneers (13-4), hosting a first-round NCAA game at Barton Stadium for the second time in three years, received a career-high eight goals from sophomore attack Wes Berg, and four apiece from seniors Eric Law and Cameron Flint, to advance and play North Carolina on May 19 in Indianapolis.
“It’s thrilling to be in a third straight quarterfinal with this group,” said coach Bill Tierney, who guided the Pioneers to the 2011 Final Four in just his second year at DU. “Here we are, playing North Carolina in what could be equal to a national championship game.”
DU was solid in all areas Saturday, but particularly the midfield. Flint closed the door by scoring three goals in the fourth quarter. Fellow midfielders Eric Adamson (three assists) and Chase Carraro (22-13 faceoffs) were exceptional at setting up goals. Berg had a handful of key goals, but none was more important than Law’s buzzer-beating tally off a home run pass from midfielder Taylor Young that gave DU a 15-10 lead with one second left in the third quarter.
“We knew all week this was going to kind of be a track meet game, a very exciting game for the fans,” Law said.
Berg, who entered with a team-high 44 goals, remembers scoring eight goals when he was a kid.
“I was a lot younger and there was no goalie in net,” he joked.
DU sophomore Ryan LaPlante and junior Jamie Faus split time in the net against a Great Danes offense that averaged more than 16 goals per game. Unseeded Albany (13-5) led 3-1 early before DU began to have its way against a defense ranked 55th among 63 Division I teams (12.12 goals allowed per game).
Albany sophomore Lyle Thompson entered the game leading the NCAA in scoring (108 points) and goals per game (averaging 6.75). And brother Miles Thompson, a junior attack, had 42 goals in 11 games. A third Thompson, cousin Ty, a junior attack, had an NCAA-most 51 goals. The Thompsons combined for “just” eight goals.
DU used a 6-2 run to close the first half in taking a 9-6 lead at the break. Berg had four goals during that stretch, three on assists from Gordie Koerber (two) and Adamson.
The Pioneers took their first lead (5-4) on Berg’s man-up goal with 9:37 remaining in the half, on a dish from Koerber.
The Thompsons were limited to four goals — including just one from Lyle, who scored the game’s first tally before going cold.
Albany failed to score 15 goals for just the fourth time this season, and the Pioneers’ 19 goals were their season high.
DU closed the third quarter with a 3-0 run.
“Certainly going on that run to get us up (by) five at the end of the third was great,” Tierney said. “If they had had the ball a little bit more, we might be singing a different song right now.”
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