NEWARK, Del. - As the clocked ticked down to zero yesterday at the University of Delaware, all the Drexel men's lacrosse team could do was watch. Denver ran out the clock and commenced its modest celebration as Dragons coach Brian Voelker and his team watched, heads hanging heavy.
Denver made sure early on that all Drexel would be able to do is watch, as the Pioneers dominated every facet of the game en route to a 15-6 win in the second round of the Division I NCAA Tournament.
"Sometimes the ball just doesn't roll your way," Nick Trizano said. "They outplayed us today, and they are a good team. Can't do much about that."
"We couldn't really seem to get into a rhythm, and give Denver a lot of credit for that," Voelker said.
After taking a 3-2 lead with 5:35 left in the first quarter, the Dragons' offense went missing. They went more than 29 minutes without a goal, and allowed the Pioneers to rattle off 10 straight goals to take command of the game, much to Drexel's surprise.
"We were in the game," Trizano said. "We were expecting a good game, and Denver just did all the right things. They had time of possession, won faceoffs, converted on man up."
The faceoff circle was the reason the offense struggled. After excelling at the draw against Penn in the first round, the Dragons were not effective at gaining possession yesterday. Denver had a large edge in time of possession, limiting what can be an explosive Drexel offense.
"They do a really good job of holding onto the ball so they can get in a rhythm," Ben McIntosh said. "When they are winning faceoffs, they have possession of the ball for the majority of the game. When they are controlling the ball and you can't get the ball on the offensive end to even attack, it is tough. It is frustrating."
"Not a lot of offense," Trizano said. "They definitely have good 'D' guys. Their goalie made a bunch of saves. We hit a couple of pipes. We didn't convert on man up a couple of times. That's the way it rolled."
Nick Saputo, who was brilliant last week, struggled early. He picked up three faceoff violations, resulting in a 30-second penalty. The Dragons won just seven of 23 faceoffs. Voelker was not happy with the result, and also the way the faceoffs were called.
"To be honest, I felt like the faceoffs were called different today than they were called all year, and I'm not really sure why," Voelker said. "Nick is obviously a guy, when he gets in a groove, is a huge weapon for us, and he wasn't able to get in a groove for whatever reason."
Denver's third-ranked offense lived up to the ranking. The Pioneers did mostly everything right, scoring 14 goals in the first three periods before taking their foot off the gas. Erik Adamson had seven points by way of six goals and one assist to lead the Pioneers.
Their 15 goals came on just 32 shots, good for a shooting percentage of .468. Their highly efficient offense was tough for Drexel to contain.
"They grind you down and grind you down," Voelker said. "Then obviously they have some great players who are able to finish it. When this team has this many possessions, they are going to grind you down and score goals."
McIntosh led the way offensively for Drexel with two goals and an assist in his last college game. His second goal was the 100th of his career. He, along with fellow senior Trizano, were a big reason why they had the best season in school history (13-5).
"These guys worked really hard," Voelker said. "We talked about it a lot in the last couple of weeks of us knocking on the door, and this team was the team to bust through and accomplish what they did."