Story Courtesy of Denison Sports Information Department
For the third time in program history and the first time since 2001, Denison men's lacrosse has reached the semifinal round of the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament. The Big Red defeated Lynchburg College 18-9 clinching their spot in the national semifinals. That game will take place on Sunday (May 21) at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury, Maryland. The game time will be determined on Thursday. Salisbury advanced to the semifinals after a 17-5 win over Cabrini.
Since the season-opening loss to Washington and Lee, Denison has found its winning recipe though faceoff wins, relentless defensive pressure, a lights out ground ball game and a supremely talented attack unit. Seven minutes into the game, the Big Red trailed 3-1. Without even a whiff of panic in the air, DU tied the game in less than a minute after goals by Brooks Davy and Alex Paulus.
Making his second-straight start after the loss of sophomore midfielder Owen Armstrong, Paulus made the most of his opportunity, scoring twice in the first half and once in the second.
The Hornets held a 4-3 lead after the first quarter but Denison began to assert themselves in the second. The Big Red was 23-of-30 at the faceoff X for the game and won 4-of-6 draws in the second quarter. Combine that with five Lynchburg turnovers and 10 Denison ground balls, the Big Red had possession for a large majority of the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Denison outscored Lynchburg 5-0 behind goals from Paulus, Jake Waxter and Will Donohue. They also converted a pair of EMO's on scores by Davy and Butler.
Instead of trailing by one, Denison flipped the script and entered the halftime intermission leading 8-4.
In the third, it was more of the same for DU. Faceoff wins, accurate shooting and a complete domination on ground balls allowed the Big Red to build their lead to 12-7 after three periods.
Over the final 15 minutes of play, Denison outscored Lynchburg 6-2 while picking up 18 of the 21 ground balls in the quarter. For the game, DU held a decisive 45-14 advantage in ground balls. It was a similar domination at the X where Henry DeCamp was 22-of-28 with 14 ground balls.
With 2:59 remaining in the fourth quarter, Butler scored his fifth goal of the day and 16th goal in the last two games running his season total to 64. That breaks the DU single-season record held by Andy John since 1984.
Another record that seems to be in play is the Division III single-season assist mark. The record is 92, set by Will Van Dorn of Kean in 1999. After Rooney's five assist afternoon he needs seven assists to tie the mark.
The Denison defense caused 11 of Lynchburg's 18 turnovers. Aside from DeCamp's 14 ground balls, Josh Happ and Teddy Sawyer finished with four. Sawyer, Ben Duhoski and Chris Broderick had two caused turnovers apiece.
For Lynchburg, Harrison Brennan scored three goals and had one assist. Evan Lombardo also had three goals. Junior goalie C.J. Santora posted 10 saves while playing all 60 minutes. The 18 goals scored by Denison were the most allowed by the Hornets this season.
The semifinals will take place on Sunday, May 21 at the home of the highest remaining seed. Check www.denisonbigred.com for updated information on the location and start time. This is Denison's third NCAA semifinal appearance. The previous two Final Four's came in 1999 and 2001.