Men's Lacrosse


MLAX Season Preview Part I: Defense Looks to Build off National Semifinal Performance This Season

Jan. 22, 2018

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DENVER – A new chapter of the University of Denver men’s lacrosse defense, without the services of four-time USILA All-America selection Christian Burgdorf (Westfield, N.J.) for the first time since the 2013 season, will begin on February 10 with a number of upperclassmen set to take control of this season’s Denver defense. 

In Foxboro a year ago in Denver’s fifth Championship Weekend appearance in the last seven years, the Pioneers’ defense held a top-10 scoring offense and eventual National Champion Maryland to single digits in the 9-8 loss in the National Semifinals. Minus Burgdorf, the Pioneers return a majority of their defense in 2018 after posting a goals against average of 7.67 in their three NCAA Tournament games in 2017.

Denver’s loss in the National Semifinals when allowing single digits was the Pioneers first since defensive coordinator John Orsen joined the staff in 2015, bringing DU’s record in the last three years to 27-1 when its defense posts a single-digit performance. Denver is 74-5 when allowing less than 10 under ninth-year head coach Bill Tierney.

The Pioneers posted three of their best defensive outputs in program history a year ago. In the Faceoff Classic last February, Denver posted its first shutout in its Division I history, blanking Canisius in the Sunday afternoon game (last shutout overall in 1971). The Crimson and Gold’s second-best defensive output under Tierney came in April of 2017, when the Pioneers held [20/20] Providence to two scores at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. A month later, Denver held No. 4 Notre Dame in the NCAA Quarterfinals to four goals, the Pioneers best defensive performance in their NCAA Tournament history.


To start in the cage, Alex Ready (Lancaster, Pa.) will begin the second half of his career after finishing 11th in the country in goals against average in 2017 with an 8.50 GAA. Ready played 56:26 in Denver’s first shutout a year ago. The Denver junior made double digit saves in 11 games last year, including 12 in the National Semifinal vs. Maryland. For the first time in Ready’s career, the Pioneers have added a goalie to the coaching staff with the addition of 2015 National Champion Ryan LaPlante as the program’s volunteer assistant. After having to go to the dorms a year ago for a backup goalie in Harry Shove, the Pioneers will feature five reserve goalies, including returnees David Winsor (Bozeman, Mont.) and Josh Matte (Issaquah, Wash.). Freshmen Steven Geske (Carmel, Ind.), Alexander Targe (Commack, N.Y.) and Tristan Wright (Reno, Nev.) will also provide Tierney options for Ready’s backup.

Close Defense

Denver’s top four close defender returnees that include a senior, two juniors and a sophomore have combined for 102 games played and 46 starts. The Dylan’s (Johnson and Gaines) enter their junior years after making progress in their sophomore seasons, despite missing a month each due to injury. Gaines has forced multiple turnovers in five career games, including all three 2017 NCAA Tournament contests. In the 2017 NCAA Quarterfinals against Notre Dame, Gaines picked up a career-high five ground balls. Johnson played for the 2016 United States Under-19 Team in the 2016 championships before starting seven of his 13 games played a year ago.

Senior Matt Jones (Denver, Colo.) started the final six games in Orsen’s defense a year ago, highlighted by a caused turnovers and a pair of groundballs in Denver’s regular season win over Villanova. Sophomore Colin Squires (West Linn, Ore.) will also be featured in Orsen’s close defense corps after splitting time between close and LSM a year ago. Squires picked up a pair of ground balls in Denver’s NCAA Quarterfinal win a year ago.

Additional returnees in junior Jon Ober (Fredericksburg, Va.) and sophomores Alec Barnes (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Chris Sullivan (Tucson, Ariz.) and Nate Williams (Potomac, Md.) combined for 23 appearances in 2017, while newcomers Kyle Dombroski (Westfield, N.J.), Charlie Winsor (Bozeman, Mont.) and Mac Tezak (Denver, Colo.) will add depth to the Denver defensive lineup.

Defensive Midfield

2018 co-captain Sean Mayle (San Carlos, Calif.) will lead Denver’s rope unit once again in 2018, while also taking a high percentage of the faceoff wings opposite sophomore SSDM Danny Logan (Upper Arlington, Ohio). Seniors Nick Phillips (Denver, Colo.) and Zach Runberg (Centennial, Colo.) also return to Denver’s defensive midfield. Junior Brett Greenlee (Newport Beach, Calif.) will back-up Mayle at LSM and could also serve as a fifth close defender for the Pioneers. 

Junior Michael Cox (Southlake, Texas) returns to the Pioneers lineup after transferring from Siena in 2016 and playing in eight games for DU in 2017. Redshirt-sophomore Max Begoon (New Canaan, Conn.) missed 2017 with an injury, while freshmen LSM Oliver Dina (Austin, Texas) and SSDM Zachary Carroll (Mountain Brook, Ala.) join the Pioneers in 2018. 




For all Denver Athletics ticket inquires, call 303-871-GOAL (4625). Season tickets for the 2018 season are on sale now for $80 and can be purchased here.

Fans interested in making a donation to the men’s lacrosse program can do so by clicking here. Your contribution will make a direct impact on the success of YOUR Pioneers. Thank you in advance for your unwavering support of our student-athletes and their quest for excellence. 

Student-Athlete Alumni Giving Challenge:
In 2017-18, the University of Denver is holding an alumni giving challenge in an effort to increase student-athlete alumni participation in the Denver Athletics Annual Fund. The sport program with the highest percentage of alumni participation will receive an additional $10,000 of support through the generosity of an anonymous donor. Former student-athletes can make a gift online, by calling 303-871-2388 during normal business hours or by sending a check to:

Athletics Development Office
Attn: Kaley Rickert
2201 E. Asbury Avenue 
Denver, CO 80208  


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