For a prime match up in Saturday’s lineup, the Pioneers (3-1) hosted 3-0 Notre Dame. Coming into the game, there was a lot of hype behind Irish Junior Matt Kavanagh and Sergio Perkovic, Notre Dame’s tower of a player who stands a head taller than the majority of his team. Denver had much hope as well, as they could secure home field advantage for the BIG EAST Tournament. The game was how it should be, a dog match that headed into overtime.
Jack Bobzien started the day’s scoring for Denver. Just over a minute and a half into the game, he found the back of cage around ND goaltender Shane Doss. After DU went up 1-0, the game got scary for the Pioneers as they wouldn’t find the cage again until the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Notre Dame went on a scoring run that pushed the Pioneers back on their heels. Sergio Perkovic snagged a goal with 12:22 remaining in the first quarter. Following him, Jim Marlatt scored approximately three and a half minutes later. Thirdly, Matt Kavanagh opened up his day’s scoring with 4:47 left in the first.
As the ball went back and forth for a bit following these goals, both team played tough defense. Denver’s defense was stepping up their body placement and slide times, but they were having trouble regaining possession of the ball over Notre Dame.
With 2:34 left in the first quarter, Sergio Perkovic earned his second goal of the day bringing the score to 4-1 over DU. Then, a minute and thirty seconds following, Kavanagh got a goal, his second on the day. The score heading into the second quarter was 5-1 in Notre Dame’s favor.
To start out the second quarter, Denver went on a three-goal streak started by Connor Cannizzaro with both teams all-even at 14:04 in the second. He followed it up with another goal five and half minutes later. 5-3 Notre Dame thanks to the sophomore.
With 5:36 left in the first half, Tyler Pace was assisted by Wes Berg for a nice goal, bringing the game within one point finally.
Matt Kavanagh had answers to Cannizzaro’s goals, as he snagged a pair of his own with 3:18 left in the half, and again with 2:58 remaining. The brought Kavanagh’s tally to three and spread the lead by another two points. 7-4 over Denver.
With 2:38 left in the first half of regulation, Connor Cannizzaro responded to Kavanagh’s goal pair with his third on the day. 7-5 over Denver heading into halftime.
At halftime, spectators could be heard calling the second half a joke and trying leave early. For the ones that did they were solely disappointed as the second half was the true thriller.
The Pioneers had the first goal of the second half with a sweet shot from Wes Berg a minute and 13 seconds into the half. A little less than two minutes later and following much rough and tumble back and forth play, Mikey Wynne for ND scored bringing the board back up to 8-6. Denver’s sophomore Zach Miller capitalized on a man-up goal. His first of the day keeping the game within one goal. It was after this that things got scary again for DU.
Notre Dame scored twice, six and a half minutes after Miller’s goal with a sniper from Irish Conor Doyle and again another three minutes later with a dump from Jack Near. 10-7 in Notre Dame’s favor, only one quarter of regulation left, DU down by four and not a ton of game momentum in their favor.
The fourth quarter was Denver’s time to shine. The team came out viciously swinging on defense, doubling and tripling the ball almost every time, stripping the Irish left and right, and downright creating a dog match between the two squads. Personal penalties (whether seem or not) started taking place. Lots of pulling, elbowing, illegal shoving and a continuation of slashes. Denver was able to keep it tight while Notre Dame started to get penalized and DU gained possession a lot more.
Zach Miller scored on man up with 10:05 left in the game. Connor Cannizzaro dumped 35 seconds later into Notre Dame’s net, and Zach Miller again with 1:19 left if the game. The scoreboard read 10-10. The crowd was going nuts for Denver.
The Pioneers shot down on a fast break and Connor Cannizzaro dunked in a game winner with approximately thirty seconds remaining. The officials called off the goal mid-sideline celebration, and Tierney called a timeout.
Denver came back onto the field and stalled as regulation expired.
Four minutes of game clock in a sudden death overtime. On the faceoff, an Irish midfielder shoved DU in the back, immediately gaining possession for DU. While Notre Dame showed resentment toward the penalty, the Pioneers devised a game-winning strategy to rotate the defense in Miller’s favor. He’d been clutch all day and Tierney expected him to stay so for the win.
The Pioneers offense shifted the Irish defense heavy-right and Miller drew his defender out top left. He dodged to the center of the field and fired on the goal. Game winner. The crowd goes nuts! The Denver War Drummer starts his pounding and drumming. The Pioneer sideline becomes ecstatic. 11-10 over Notre Dame at home in a game-long nail biter. Denver earned and deserved their victory today.
Connor Cannizzaro continues to light up the field as a sophomore. He had four goals on the day.
Zach Miller is a promising, rising roster member. With his four goals and one assist today, he continues to show improvement and growth, and demonstrates potential future leadership.
Ryan LaPlante started off rough, but despite the onslaught of Notre Dame offense stood tall all game.
Wesley Berg had a goal and two assists, Jack Bobbin had one each and Tyler Pace found one goal and two assists.
This was one of the rougher and tougher 2015 NCAA games so far this season. Top-notch lacrosse, physicality and back and forth play.