Durham, NC-There was a lot of concern on how the Denver Pioneers would find offensive firepower after attackmen Mark Matthews (47g, 17a) and Alex Demopoulos (20g, 27a) graduated last year after losing to eventual champion Loyola in the NCAA tourney. However, Saturday’s game against the Duke Blue Devils proved that getting an offense going wouldn’t be a problem in 2013. Denver exceeded their 2012 average goals per game (12.31) as they rode a 9-0 second half run in their 14-12 defeat of No. 6 ranked Duke.
Denver’s sophomore attackman Erik Adamson matched his 2012 goal-total as he tallied five against John Danowski’s Blue Devil defense. Denver goalie Ryan LaPlante was solid in-between the pipes, totaling 18 saves and holding Duke scoreless for a span of 23 minutes and 8 seconds as Denver came back from a 6-2 deficit.
Denver head coach Bill Tierny wasn’t ready to claim the whole season a success after only one game when he talked to the Baltimore Sun, “You can look at things from different ways, it’s February 9, and at the end of the day, whatever happens on May 27 is not going to be greatly affected by what happens between Duke and Denver on February 9.” Tierny continued to say that the game was still valuable, commenting on the difficulty of scheduling top opponents in later in the season, “scheduling one like this, it’s hard to get non-league teams in April and it’s harder to get top-five opponents in April or March.” Duke head coach John Danowski had similar words about the game when he talked to laxpower.com, “Whether we won or we lost, it’s still Feb. 9 on the calendar, we’re not going to get too high over a win or too low over a loss.”
Although Duke lost, there were still a lot of positives from the game. The Blue Devils played well in transition, clearing the ball and riding very well, as well as out-hustling the Pioneers 33-28 in ground balls. With a hard ACC-schedule ahead, as well as out of conference match-ups against respectable teams such as Penn, Georgetown, Loyola and up-and-coming teams in High Point and Harvard; the Blue Devils got the warm-up game they needed for the 2013 season.
The game was Bill Tierney’s first season-opener win in his four years at Denver. This was Duke’s first loss in ten games at home, as well as their first season-opening loss since 1998.