Saturday afternoon saw the Fightin’ Irish on the front end of a double bill at Arlotta Stadium. The first contest saw the men’s lacrosse team take on the Denver Pioneers. The men came into Saturday’s contest ranked tenth in the nation while the Pioneers came in 16/17 in the country.
Denver came to play and it showed. Playing aggressive from the opening faceoff, three of three of their first four shots hit off the post, two of those three came from Pioneer Den Hannah. Morrison Mirer made sure he didn’t miss his shot. Shortly after entering the game, he gets the ball and makes the Pioneers pay the price for the first goal.
After the Mirer goal, Denver continuing to play strong despite playing in a deficit early spring back and score at 9:42 and 7:44 by Den Walker. Denver continued t, to dominate the time of possession. At 4:14 Wheaton Jackoboice puts the ball on net to tie the game at 2-2. Moments after the goal, Pioneer Den Walker puts the ball on net past Liam Entenmann to put the Pioneers up 3-2. The Irish and the Pioneers exchanged turnovers over a 1:30 period in the first. After the turnover Mirer returned to the game and promptly scores with 00:55 left in the first period to tie the game at three. The Pioneers scored once more at 00:06 to take 4-3 at the end of the period. Denver led the Shots 12-10, shots on goal 6-5, faceoffs 7-1 and ground balls 10-6.
To open the second period, Hannah opened the second period just as he did the first, just strong. Except for one part, putting the goal on net versus hitting the post. Getting the ball by Entenmann at 13:08 to put Denver up 5-3. The Pioneers continued to bring pressure on the Irish defense and Entenmann. On rare turnover by the Pioneers, the Irish recover the turnover and Brian Willets gets the ball on net to bring the Irish within one at 6:57 for a score of 5-4.
The Irish continued to apply pressure on Jack Thompson and it pays off. Bryan Costabile ties it up 5-5 at 5:06 remaining in the half. The Pioneers score two goals in the closing moments of the second period. They score at 3:36 and at 1:31 to go up 7-5 going into the half. Denver led the Shots 11-9, shots on goal 5-4, faceoffs 4-2 and ground balls 10-6. It’s the game inside the game when looking at the numbers.
It is important to remember the late goals scored by the Pioneers. To open the third period, the Pioneers scored five consecutive goals, 10:59, them at 10:46, 10:19, 9:19 and 7:47. This is quite a hole for the Irish to get out of. After the goal by Denver, Matt Schmidt comes in at goalie position. The second half of the third period saw the fight in the Fightin’ Irish come out. Pat Kavanaugh scored at 4:12, Costabile scored his second goal of the game at 3:07, and Jackoboice got his second goal of the game at 1:21 to get the Irish within four to end the period. Denver led the Shots 11-7, shots on goal 8-6, faceoffs 8-0 and ground balls 10-3.
With Schmidt settled in at goalie, the Irish were able to keep the Pioneers away from the back of the net. That doesn’t mean that the Pioneers weren’t giving the Irish difficulties. Denver opened up with four consecutive shots on goal and were denied each of the four times. With the defense taking business, that mean that the Irish could get some time on offense. After missing at 9:21, Jackoboice get’s the hat trick at 8:51 to put the Irish down three with a score of 12-9.
The Irish get another scoring opportunity on the Man Up at 7:34. The Irish took full advantage of their chance. Brian Willetts brings the Irish within two goals as the score pushes to 12-10. But that’s as close as the Irish would get. The Pioneers had enough confidence that it allowed them to grow their lead. The Pioneers go onto score two goals forty five seconds apart. They built their cushion to four goals with 5:28 left in regulation. Not wanting to give up, Jackoboice scores his fourth goal of the game and that would be the final goal of the game. The Irish fall 14-11 to the Pioneers.
The Irish travel to Ohio State University as they take on the 18/19 Buckeyes at 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The game will be on BTN.