Pioneers Host New No. 1 Notre Dame Sunday

The Denver Pioneers soared over the Duke Blue Devils 14-9 on Saturday, February 18 at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. (Photo credit: Ian Neadle)
The Denver Pioneers soared over the Duke Blue Devils 14-9 on Saturday, February 18 at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. (Photo credit: Ian Neadle)

Following their most recent loss to UNC, the Denver Pioneers dropped across all polls (to No. 5 on IL, No. 4 on Coaches, and No. 3 on RPI) and were replaced atop the college rankings by Notre Dame – and what a controversial time for it to happen. Five of the last six meetings between the Fighting Irish and Pios resulted in sudden death overtimes, all won by Denver when they had their superstar rosters.

Now, the NCAA D-I standings are all amok and undefeated Notre Dame comes to take on DU who just suffered their first loss of the 2017 season. Though the loss could remove some pressure to perform for the Pios, the bigger question here is can they continue their home stands against ND without Zach Miller or Brendan Bomberry.

As of now, Connor Cannizzaro continues to carry the team with 23 points on the season with 13 goals and 10 assists. He’s scored in 46 straight games, and has a solid rollback attackman in Ethan Walker who’s hitting the scene on fire. Walker has 20 points already in 2017 off of 13 goals and 7 assists.

Denver has 16 different scorers this season, which makes match-ups difficult for Notre Dame. Other than the two attackmen previously mentioned, the Irish still have to be on constant lookout at the top of the box for shooting threats.

Alex Ready proved last week against UNC that he still has some struggles in the crease. He’s performing below-average on the season with a save percentage of .492, and UNC showed if you can shut down Denver’s transition game, they are completely placid.

On the other end of the sideline, Notre Dame has their share of threats as well. They have eleven different scorers so far this season, with Ryder Garnsey leading the Irish with 14 points on nine goals and five assists. Mikey Wynne is close behind him with eight goals and Sergio Perkovic continues to prove he’s an all-around threat with four points on the season, but also boasting the most ground ball recoveries of anyone on the team’s offense.

Shane Doss proves to be performing above-average for Notre Dame in goal with a save percentage of .525.

Though Denver has a higher shot percentage in games by 3%, both teams are averaging 44 shots per game.

This game is going to easily come down to who can control the middle of the field the best. Ground balls, caused turnovers, and clears are all comparable on the stats lists. Denver has more successful man-up capitalizations, but Notre Dame has the better goaltender. This heated matchup always comes down to the wire, and the University of Denver is expecting a sellout crowd.

Assuming Notre Dame wins, they will remain No.1 in the polls and Denver could very well remain No. 3/4/5. However, with Syracuse right behind them in the IL Rankings, or Hopkins in the USILA Coaches Poll that No. 4/5 spot is entirely up for grabs.

Assuming Denver wins the competition, the rankings may once again be entirely reorganized. For one, none of the three rankings match in the Top 10, and Penn State now stands 6-0 and could easily take over the No. 2 spot. If Maryland wins, I foresee them tying for No. 1 with Denver, Penn State No. 2, and Notre Dame No. 3.

Game time is set for 1pmMT Sunday.