Denver, Virginia advance to lax semis
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Bill Tierney has been here before. His Denver Pioneers haven't.
Denver upset nine-time NCAA lacrosse tournament champion Johns Hopkins 14-9 Saturday to reach the national semifinals for the first time in school history.
"We're not going there just being happy to play in it," said Tierney, who took Princeton to six national titles, starting in 1992. "Not to jinx the guys but it reminds me so much of '92.
"I used to tell people in '92 'We were cute.' We were kind of everybody's favorite because they knew it was going to be one shot and we were out of there. Our idea is this is the beginning of a program."
The Pioneers will play Virginia in Baltimore with a spot in the title game at stake. No school from outside the Eastern time zone has ever won the title, and Denver only won its first tournament game earlier this season.
Todd Baxter and Cameron Flint each scored three goals for the Pioneers (15-2). Goalie Jamie Faus made eight saves.
Kyle Wharton scored three goals for Hopkins, which last won the NCAA tournament in 2007. Coach Dave Pietramala said the Blue Jays didn't respect Denver
"It was very obvious that they were a very good team," Pietramala said. "We just got beat today."
The Blue Jays scored four goals against Denver's zone defense in the third quarter to cut the lead to 8-7. But that was as close as Johns Hopkins would get as the Pioneers scored five straight goals.
"We dug ourselves too big a hole. You can't come back like that," Pietramala said. "We spent so much energy trying to come back and just when we closed the gap, they get one or two. Now you got to fight back again."
Tierney is in his second season with the Pioneers after coaching the Tigers from 1988-2009.
The Blue Jays scored four goals against Denver's zone defense in a 6:36 span of the third quarter to cut the lead to 8-7. But that was as close as Johns Hopkins would get as the Pioneers scored five straight goals.
Virginia 13, Cornell 9Chris Bocklet scored three goals and Steele Stanwick added three goals and four assists to put Virginia in the semifinals.
The Cavaliers (11-5) led 10-4 at halftime after falling behind 4-1 in the first quarter. Virginia's defense held the Big Red scoreless for 22 minutes, 32 seconds, spanning the first three quarters. Roy Lang ended the drought 3:35 into the third quarter.
"I thought it was just a great lacrosse game," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "I thought we shot the ball very well. It's just been a remarkable run these last few weeks and I'm really pleased that we're still playing."
Virginia scored nine unanswered goals, including Bocklet's second and third of the game. His goal 2:55 into the match tied the game at one and pushed his goal-scoring streak to 34 games. He has scored 94 goals in those games.
"They forced us to play from behind the entire time," Cornell coach Ben DeLuca said. "This loss is on my shoulders, squarely."
Steve Mock scored four goals for Cornell (14-3) and Rob Pannell had three.
Virginia goaltender Adam Ghitelman stopped 13 of 22 shots.
"We tried to do the best job we could to get back in the game," Pannell said. "We had a lot of opportunities where we could have scored and I think Adam Ghitelman played great, to his credit. He made a lot of saves. We couldn't get any run going."