Denver ends Drexel's run in NCAA lacrosse

Drexel's Ryan Belka loses the ball against Denver's Garret Holst. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

NEWARK, Del. - The start, like the entire season, was so promising for the Drexel men's lacrosse team, but eventually the experience and talent of Denver won out.

After Drexel took a 3-2 lead on a goal by Nick Trizano with 5 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter, No. 5-seeded Denver turned on the afterburners.

The Pioneers scored the next 10 goals Sunday in a 15-6 victory over Drexel in an NCAA quarterfinal at Delaware Stadium.

Drexel's Ben McIntosh finally ended the drought when he scored his 100th career goal with 6:12 left in the third period. By then, Denver still was comfortably ahead, 12-4.

"Denver does a good job of holding the ball so they can get into a rhythm," McIntosh said. "And winning faceoffs, they had possession of the ball the majority of the game. They were controlling the ball, and when you can't get the ball into the offensive end to attack, it's tough. It's frustrating."

It is also typically Denver.

The Pioneers will return to their accustomed position in the NCAA semifinals, in which they will face defending champion Duke, the top seed, Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Maryland and Notre Dame will meet in the other semifinal.

Denver (16-2) has won 13 in a row and will be making its third Final Four appearance in the last four years and second in a row. The Pioneers are seeking their first NCAA title.

Denver's Chris Hampton won 16 of 23 faceoffs, while Erik Adamson paced the Pioneers with six goals.

When Drexel took a 3-2 lead, all veteran Denver coach Bill Tierney could do was credit the Dragons and then adjust.

"They had three great goals, and I am proud of our guys for plugging away and trying to hang in there the first quarter," said Tierney, whose team led, 5-3, after the first period and then outscored Drexel, 5-0, in the second. "The second quarter was probably the best quarter we have played all year. It was truly amazing."

Drexel, which entered the game with a nine-game winning streak, concluded the season 13-5, tying the school record for victories. The Dragons were playing in their first NCAA tournament and won their opening game last week, 16-11, against Penn at Franklin Field.

Before that, Drexel needed consecutive 11-10 wins in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament to earn its NCAA berth. The Dragons beat Towson in one overtime during the semifinals and Hofstra in three overtime periods for the championship.

Coach Brian Voelker has plenty to build on, although replacing McIntosh will be among the difficult tasks. McIntosh scored twice against Denver, extending his single-season school record to 48.

 "We know what we did this year," McIntosh said. "We are proud of ourselves, and we took this program where we have never been. To an extent, we have to be proud but also disappointed to lose that last game."