Jan. 31, 2018
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DENVER - The often used sports adage, "the best defense is a good offense" needs a re-write for the University of Denver men's lacrosse program, thanks to the last three years, to "the best defense is having the best faceoff man".
Save the discussion points for - is 2017 Tewaaraton Award Finalist Trevor Baptiste (Denville, N.J.) the best faceoff guy to ever play the game - after what he hopes is another run to Memorial Day Weekend. Instead, the Denver senior has one thing in mind - to bookend his collegiate career with National Championships.
"My focus and our team's focus is to get better every day, play on Memorial Day Weekend and win another National Championship," Baptiste said. "For me personally, winning a National Championship in 2015 was one of my greatest, if not the greatest, achievements in lacrosse, and I want the rest of the team to be able to enjoy that feeling too.
"To win with this class again would be amazing. I think we've grown so close over the past four years, and we have so many leaders. It's not just the captains, but as a class, we have a great group of leaders. We are all bought in and ready to go do this together."
Prior to Baptiste's arrival in 2015, Denver hadn't reached a 60% faceoff clip since Geoff Snider (242/354 | .684) led a 2006 faceoff corps that finished at 66.5%. Since Baptiste's arrival, the program matched that 66.5% number en route to its first National Championship in 2015, combined for a 67.3% faceoff win-rate in 2016 and won 72.3% of its faceoffs on its way to a fifth trip to Championship Weekend in seven seasons in 2017.
On top of that, following the final Team USA January Camp before the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships, Baptiste was announced as the only active college player on the 23-man travel roster headed to Israel this July.
Baptiste in the Record Books
Using the control-find feature on your computer in most documents is a helpful search tool, and the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Division I Record Book is no exception when looking at what Baptiste has accomplished in his first three years in Crimson and Gold.
Ctrl-F and the search "Baptiste" brings up 21 results in the 2018 NCAA Record Book.
Single Game Records
Ground Balls - 16th - 20 GBs - vs. St. John's - 4/16/16
Faceoffs Won - 20th - 26 FOW - vs. Georgetown - 4/1/17
Ground Balls/Game - 10th - 10.47 - 2017
Ground Balls/Game - 14th - 10.19 - 2016
Ground Balls - 7th - 178 - 2017
Ground Balls - 13th - 163 - 2016
Faceoff Winning% - 4th - .744 - 2017
Faceoff Winning% - 17th - .694 - 2016
Faceoffs Won - 5th - 310 - 2015
Faceoffs Won - 7th - 297 - 2017
Faceoffs Won - 11th - 272 - 2016
Faceoffs Attempted - 4th - 456 - 2015
Ground Balls - 5th - 481
Faceoffs Won - 3rd - 879
Faceoffs Attempted - 12th - 1247
Fastest Goal, Start of Game - 13th - :07 - vs. Brown - 5/10/15
Fastest Consecutive Goals, Same Team - Woolford & Baptiste - at Providence - 4/23/16
Fastest Consecutive Goals, Opposing Teams - Chell (OSU) & Baptiste - 3/14/15
Faceoff Winning % - 2015 - .680
Faceoff Winning % - 2017 - .744
Ground Balls/Game - 2016 - 10.19
To add to the record book, following the 2017 season, Baptiste became the 58th player in the history of the sport at the Division I level to earn USILA First Team All-America honors three times in their careers. Baptiste has a chance to do something truly remarkable in 2018, attempting to become one of just six players to earn four first team honors for an award that dates back to the 1920s.
Not Just a Good Faceoff Man
This summer, the Colorado Collegiate Box Lacrosse League was born in Denver, and Baptiste's team's road to the Morrow Cup Championship series came without him taking a single faceoff. Several DU teammates played in the league to develop their skills over the summer, but for Baptiste, it was an opportunity to constantly improve both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
"The CCBLL was hands down the most fun but instructional lacrosse I've ever been a part of," Baptiste said. "I hadn't played box before, but being able to be in so many different situations in so many different areas on the court helped improve my all-around game. I've tried to take all those experiences from all those different scenarios we were in in every game, and apply it straight back to my position and role here at DU.
"The games were intense every week, but playing for the Morrow Cup was a big honor because we all knew it was the first-ever championship trophy for this league. We had teams really wanting to write their name down on that trophy because I think this league is really going to blow up across the country, and I'm happy I was a part of the inaugural season of the league, even if my team didn't come out on top."
In a league that has now expanded to both six teams in Colorado, and nationally into the National Collegiate Box Series, Baptiste tallied 20 points on 13 goals and seven assists in 12 games.
Baptiste's faceoff success has been a luxury for ninth-year Denver head coach Bill Tierney, but it's the two-time captain's character that is always the first thing to come to mind for the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Famer.
"I have been in college lacrosse coaching for thirty-six years, having been blessed with being associated with hundreds of great young men," Tierney said. "Often times we look for role models for our younger players to follow. I have been comforted over the last four years to have Trevor Baptiste serve that role for the Denver Pioneers. Besides being the best faceoff player in the history of the game, I can unequivocally state that Trevor is one of the finest young men I have ever come across. His attitude, personality, unselfishness and kindness to others is second to none."
Baptiste's Eyes and Ears
Following the 368 faceoffs that Baptiste has lost in his career (879/1,247 | .705), it's not always the coaching staff that the Denver senior goes to, to try to figure out what went wrong, or what his opponent did right. Baptiste often is the first to credit the faceoff crew that he both works with throughout the week, and serves as his eyes and ears on every faceoff for that analysis when he returns to the sideline.
Junior Ryan Harnisch (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and sophomore Sean Penna (Exeter, N.H.) are Baptiste's primary backups on the sideline, and could be seen more frequently this season in games to spell the 2018 USILA Player of the Year Watchlist honoree after a long shift with the Denver offense.
"Penna and Harnisch are amazing teammates," Baptiste said. "The unit is fantastic. They are my eyes and ears out there. They are always giving me great advice while I'm on the sideline on what to look out for and what the other team is trying to do. They also put in a lot of work and are great to train with throughout the week. They do a fantastic job of giving me looks similar to what we think our opponents are going to try to do in the next game."
In addition to his eyes and ears on the sideline, co-captain Sean Mayle (San Carlos, Calif.) and sophomore midfielder Danny Logan (Upper Arlington, Ohio) often setup on the wings on either side of Baptiste, and figure to see the primary wing shifts again in 2018. With a majority but not all coming off those faceoff wings, Mayle and Logan combined for 77 ground balls a year ago.
The University of Denver men's lacrosse team, Presented by Your Hometown Toyota Stores, will host Delaware on Saturday, February 3, at 11:30 a.m. MT. DU will officially open the 2018 campaign on February 10 with a trip to Air Force. Faceoff of the season opener is set at 1 p.m., and can be heard live on 104.3 The Fan.
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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