Baptiste Leads  Denver to Fifth Championship Weekend in Seven Years
Pioneers take down western rival  Notre Dame 16-4 in NCAA Quarterfinals
May 20, 2017
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - Junior Tewaaraton Finalist Trevor Baptiste (Denville, N.J.) went 21-of-22 from the dot and scored his 12th goal of the season to lead the fifth-seeded Pioneers to their fifth Championship Weekend appearance in the last seven seasons with a 16-4 victory over fourth-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon at James M. Shuart Stadium. Baptiste picked up 13 ground balls off his 21 faceoffs to move into fifth in NCAA history in that category with 475.
Denver advances to play the winner of eighth-seeded Albany and top-seeded Maryland (to be played tomorrow/12:30 p.m. MT/ESPN2) in next Saturday's NCAA Semifinals in Foxborough. Faceoff time for Denver's semifinal will be announced at the conclusion of the last two quarterfinals tomorrow (either 10 a.m./12:30 p.m. MT - ESPN2).
Not only was Saturday the most lopsided result in a rivalry that had seen six walk-off goals in the last seven meetings entering today, it was also the biggest win for the Pioneers in their NCAA Tournament history, surpassing a nine goal win over Drexel in the 2012 NCAA Quarterfinals.
Denver's defense stood tall on Saturday, holding the Irish to eight shots on goal and four goals, the least amount of goals allowed by Denver in an NCAA Tournament game (previous low five in 2015 NCAA title game and 2014 first round).
Sophomore Austin French (Danville, Calif.) had four goals to lead the Denver offense, one of three Pioneers to finish the game with a hat trick on Saturday. Freshman Ethan Walker (Peterborough, Ontario) led the game in points with six on three goals and three assists. Senior Tyler Pace (Coquitlam, B.C.) rounded out the hat trick trio on Saturday with three of his own, marking the 13th time since the start of the 2015 season and the fifth time this season that Denver has had three different players record hat tricks in the same game.
2016 Tewaaraton Award Finalist Connor Cannizzaro (Cazenovia, N.Y.) had two goals and two assists to round out a 15-point day for Denver's starting attack unit.
Sophomore Alex Ready (Lancaster, Pa.) made four saves on just eight Notre Dame shots on goal. Classmate Dylan Gaines (Baltimore, Md.) led Denver's defense statistically with three caused turnovers, doing so for the second-straight week.
The Pioneers took a 2-1 lead in the opening quarter thanks to goals from both Walker and French. Notre Dame's Mikey Wynne started the scoring in the second quarterfinal on Saturday a little more than three minutes in.
Denver outscored the Irish 6-0 in the second quarter to make it 8-1 at the intermission. The Pioneers took all 14 shots in the second frame, and after losing the first faceoff for the second-straight NCAA Tournament game, Baptiste won his next 10 to close the first half.
Sophomore Colton Jackson (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) netted Denver's third goal in its eight-goal first-half run to start the second quarter with a lefty bouncer, his 22nd goal of the season. Sophomore Nate Marano (Tustin, Calif.) gave Denver a third-midfield goal to continue the run with 9:35 to go in the second, Denver's fourth of four unassisted goals in the first 30 minutes.
Redshirt-senior Christian Thomas (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) created just his second caused turnover of the season and the Pioneers pushed in transition to stretch Cannizzaro's nation-leading consecutive-game point streak to 57 games with his 40th goal of the season.
French added his second of the game with 6:02 to go in the second, DU's first man-up goal of the day, creeping to the back side pipe to catch Walker's 30th assist of the season. Pace scored his 16th, again from Walker, and Walker himself capped off the scoring in the first half to make it 8-1 at the break, finishing a feed from junior Connor Donahue (Groton, Mass.).
Denver outscored Notre Dame 5-1 in the third quarter. Walker and French completed hat tricks, their ninth and third of the season, respectively, in the third stanza to extend Denver's lead to 13-2 heading into the fourth.
The Pioneers got the lead out to 16-2 with 7:45 to go in the fourth quarter before Notre Dame's Wynne and Sergio Perkovic scored the final two of the game to reach the 16-4 score line.
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