May 17, 2014, 11:18 PM EDT
The Drexel men’s lacrosse team is just one win away from playing on Memorial Day on the sport’s biggest stage. However, standing in the way is the fifth-seeded Denver Pioneers, who entered the postseason ranked second in both the USILA and Warrior Media Polls. The two schools meet on Sunday afternoon in Newark, Del. in the NCAA Quarterfinals at Delaware Stadium. Game time is set for approximately 2:30 p.m. right after the conclusion of the Duke-Johns Hopkins game. The winner advances to the NCAA Semifinals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. The game can be seen live on ESPNU.
Drexel has won nine in a row after a convincing 16-11 win in the First Round at Penn on Sunday. The Dragons trailed 6-4 late in the first half before Jules Raucci scored with :17 to play in the half to cut it the lead to one. That is when Nick Saputo took over. The junior won the face-off and scored just five seconds later to tie it. He wasn’t done yet. Saputo won the next draw and scored again, swinging the momentum in Drexel’s favor and giving the Dragons a 7-6 lead. They would not trail again as they won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in school history.
Ben McIntosh scored three goals for Drexel and is now the school’s single-season leader with 46 goals. Fellow senior Nick Trizano has 38 goals, while Cole Shafer has 35 in his first year in University City. Ryan Belka has been playing well lately in the midfield and now has 25 goals and 43 points. Jared Boudreau and Raucci are often the overlooked players on offense. Boudreau had two big third quarter goals at Penn and Raucci had a pair of goals and assists in the game. Saputo has been dynamite all year and is fourth in the nation in face-off percentage(.638) and sixth in ground balls per game. The defense is led by seniors Matt Dusek and Tyler Houchins. Dusek has caused 20 turnovers, while Houchins has had the opponents top scorer to deal with each week. In goal, Drexel will have Will Gabrielsen. The sophomore had 12 saves at Penn, including a number at big times to keep the Dragons comfortably in front during the second half.
The Pioneers not only enter the contest with a 15-2 record and a 12-game winning streak, they have a coaching legend on the bench. Bill Tierney took over at Denver five years ago and has led the Pioneers to five NCAA Tournament appearances and two trips to the NCAA Semifinals. Tierney has won six national championships in his career, all while at Princeton. His career record is 337-115 in 30 seasons. Denver’s offense averages 13.18 goals per game. Wesley Berg, who hails from the same hometown as Dragons Ben McIntosh and Cole Shafer, has 42 goals and 60 assists. Berg is one of four Pioneers with at least 35 goals and one of five with at least 40 points. Denver got to the quarterfinals by defeating North Carolina in Colorado, 9-5.
Reserved seating in the Drexel section (section C) is now available at $25 each. This also allows you to watch the entire session, which includes the Duke-Johns Hopkins game. For tickets, please call 866-4DREXEL. All ticket orders through Drexel must be in by 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 15. Fans are encouraged to look at the NCAA Quarterfinals page located on the Delaware Athletics website for parking & tailgating information. Ticketing on-site opens at 10 a.m. and the gates open at 11 a.m.
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