DURHAM, N.C. – Powered by a seven-goal fourth quarter, the No. 8/9 University of Denver men’s lacrosse team defeated the No. 4/5 Duke University Blue Devils 14-12 in the Pioneers’ season opener at Koskinen Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The win is the Pioneers’ first in a season opener under fourth-year head coach Bill Tierney.
The win also snaps a nine-game home-winning streak by Duke that was the longest active in the nation.
“I am so proud of our team for making the adjustments that we asked them to make in the locker room and trusting and believing in themselves,” Tierney said. “Duke is a great team, with very talented and athletic young men who really made it tough for us in the first half to get into any kind of rhythm. We’ve got a great group of senior leaders who really stepped up to lead this team today.”
Sophomore Erik Adamson (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) led the Pioneers with a career-high five goals and one assist, while freshman Gordie Koerber (Baltimore, Md.) chipped in three goals in his collegiate debut. Also scoring for Denver was sophomore Wes Berg (Coquitlam, B.C.) with two goals, while four others finished with one goal apiece.
Senior Eric Law (Centennial, Colo.) led the way in the assists category with three while also scoring one goal. Sophomore goalie Ryan LaPlante (Fort Collins, Colo.) made a career-high 18 saves, three shy of tying the DU DI record of 21 set by Jeff Nunziato in 2003.
Duke jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Pioneers were able to get on the board with 5:16 left to play as junior Jeremy Noble (Orangeville, Ontario) scored an unassisted goal. The Blue Devils answered with two more before Berg was able to score off a pass from Law with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter. Duke took a 6-2 lead 11 seconds later.
The Pioneers opened the second quarter scoring three straight as Berg netted his second of the game, followed Archer and Koerber. In the final two minutes, Duke was able to add two more goals as Jake Tripucka and Jordan Wolf both netted their second of the game to give the Blue Devils an 8-5 lead heading into the locker room.
Denver opened the third quarter with a goal by Koerber just 51 seconds into the action, sparking a nine-goal scoring streak that lasted until the 11:46 mark of the fourth quarter. Adamson scored all five of his goals during the streak, while senior Cameron Flint (Georgetown, Ontario), Koerber and Law contributed a goal each.
Down by six with less than eight minutes remaining, the Blue Devils mounted a comeback, scoring four straight goals, including two in the final 46 seconds to bring the crowd back to life. However, key saves by LaPlante and stops by the Pioneer defense gave the Pioneers the win.
Next week, the Pioneers head back on the road, traveling to Jacksonville, Fla., to take on the Penn State Nitany Lions in the Moes Southwest Grill Classic at EverBank Field.
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