Why Is Denver Topping the College Lacrosse Polls?

denver pioneers lacrosse

Recently released were the preseason polls for Division I Men’s lacrosse with Denver taking the top spot. Championship contender Maryland placed third and defender UNC came close at No.2. Under more usual circumstances the reigning champion places No. 1 so how did DU take the the fame after being knocked out by Towson early in the 2016 postseason?

UNC Tarheels return a vast amount of players for spring 2017 – and with a young team last year taking the championship comes an intimidating forecast of this season.

Maryland had more of a balanced split of graduating players and returning teammates.

The Pioneers were also a young team in spring 2016. If we consider what the boys come back to town with, it is pretty obvious that Trevor Baptiste – recent Spring Premier roster addition – is expected to continue dominancy at face off and now Senior Connor Cannizzaro steps deeper into his already impactful role as a team leader on offense.

Zach Miller is sure to carry on his clutch with game saving goals and disorienting dodges. Tyler Pace and Christian Burgdorf both return with their momentum-creating styles of play.

However, it seems on paper that Bill Tierney and his recruiting staff have once again compiled a freshmen class overflowing with talent and potential in their NCAA careers.

Fifteen freshmen from around North America will come together with quite the combined resumes of lacrosse experience. From the traditional hotbeds in New England, the northeast and southeast, to Colorado and the northwestern US of Washington and Oregon – and we can never let Canada slip by.

Alec Barnes (M) from Colorado’s own Highlands Ranch accompanies freshmen Cam Close (M – Texas), Sam Harnisch (A – Huntington Beach, CA), Zach Hutchko (A – Charlotte, NC), Danny Logan (M – Ohio), Josh Matte (G – Washington), Matt McIlroy (D – New Jersey), Sean Penna (Faceoff – New Hampshire), Mikey Pryor (M – Denver, CO), Tim Sanford (D – New Jersey), Kyle Smith (M – Connecticut), Colin Squires (LSM – Oregon), Chris Sullivan (D – Arizona), Ethan Walker (A – Ontario), Nate Williams (D – Maryland).

Though Close is out of Texas his lacrosse resume speaks for itself. 253 points in 65 career games is no small accomplishment; all the while playing for North America’s No. 1 prep high school. He has speed at midfield as well having been a Texas State Champion in the men’s 4×200.

Mikey Pryor and Alec Barnes both come out of Colorado’s own top programs at Mullen High School and Regis Jesuit High School respectively. Both are consistent playoff contenders while Regis Jesuit is more often championship contenders.

If you look at all the talent Bill Tierney has acquired he’s beginning to paint his picture. Some anchoring to Colorado with respect all the modern hot beds of high school lacrosse. Getting ready for the future while complimenting the present with depth and knowledge.

Tierney has always felt he can teach a player to run a field – he wants players with both ability and lacrosse IQ. By looking at the backgrounds of each individual player you can see how their experiences will mold together. Lacrosse hotbeds, club teams, Canada, young western North American programs all represented in the same recruitment year.

Who to Watch:

Alec Barnes will be bringing a lot to the table for the midfield alongside Mikey Pryor, and Sean Penna will be learning face off techniques from one of the best in the NCAA currently: Trevor Baptiste.

Tim Sanford and Chris Sullivan are big guys coming out of competitive states; watch for potential second string action with the Pios.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the DU season preview where In Lacrosse We Trust will begin to just scratch the surface of schedule examination.