The University of Denver women’s lacrosse team’s bid for perfection fell two wins short Friday afternoon.
Instead, the Pioneers had to settle for the best season in program history after top-seeded Northwestern eliminated DU with a 15-7 victory in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The Pios’ first and only loss of the season dropped them to 22-1 to close out the campaign.
“Only one team wins at the end of the year and Northwestern played a great game,” DU head coach Liza Kelly told reporters. “I’m just so proud of everything this team has done — in particular the senior class. They have led us every step of the way with their heart, their work, their passion, their love for all things Denver and they have left an incredible legacy behind them.”
Indeed, the group ended the season having set the bar higher than any before them at DU.
The Pioneers reached the Final Four for the first time in program history, winning both games in their first home NCAA Regional, then upsetting North Carolina on its own turf in the Elite Eight.
“I think that being a fifth-year and having been to an NCAA Tournament all five years, it’s something truly special and I really am I’m so grateful to be a part of,” said graduate student Gracie DeRose, who caused two turnovers in the match. “This is only the start of what our success will look like in the future.”
Northwestern entered the contest with the most potent offense in the country, and more than lived up to it. The Wildcats outshot the Pioneers 31-24, putting all sorts of pressure on sophomore goalkeeper Emelia Bohi (four saves) and the stingy DU defense.
Northwestern outscored the Pios 9-1 between the second and third quarters, turning what had been a 4-2 DU lead into a runaway victory. Izzy Scane scored a team-high six goals, and fellow graduate student Hailey Rhatigan tacked on four more for NU.
“I just think they started to get rolling and I think they got their confidence a little bit going into the third,” Kelly said. “You know, they are great shooters. They are great players.”
Graduate student Trinity McPherson, an All-American, and junior Bryn McCaughey caused two turnovers apiece for the Pios. Junior All-American Abby Jenkins had a team-high five draw controls, and senior All-American Sam Thacker had four ground balls and won four draws.
Graduate student Kayla DeRose scored a hat trick, the fourth of her career, as DU’s lone multi-goal scorer. Seniors Ellie Curry and Julia Gilbert both added goals, as did junior Sloane Kipp and freshman Ryan Dineen.
“The connections we built this whole process is something that will be part of my life forever,” Gracie DeRose said. “The love and support from our fans was incredible to have in this tournament, and I’m so grateful to be a part of this program. You know, to leave a legacy of Denver lacrosse.”
Want more sports news? Sign up for the Sports Omelette to get all our analysis on Denver’s teams.
Source: Read Full Article