Denver desperate for defense to develop
Denver’s continued reign as Eastern College Athletic Conference champion will likely depend on the development of a young defense.
The Pioneers bid farewell to three starting defensemen in Dillon Roy, Nick Gradinger and Payton Sanders and goalkeeper Peter Lowell. Senior Jeff Brown and junior Brendan DeBlois are leading candidates to start, and seniors Jamie McDonald and Steve Simonetti, freshman Harley Brown and John Zurlo and sophomore Kyle Hercher are competing for the third starting role.
“It’s really interesting, and that’s certainly going to be the area where we’re going to get tested,” coach Bill Tierney said Tuesday. “We’ll find out how we hold up there because if we can hold up there, then we feel like we’re much improved at every other position.”
Tierney said freshman Jamie Faus is slightly ahead of junior Troy Orzech in the race to succeed Lowell in the net.
“Troy has a little bit more college experience. Jamie just has that thing that coaches talk about, the intangible that just makes you feel good when he’s in there,” Tierney said. “But I’ll tell you, Troy is right there with him as far as being a stopper. Jamie is a little more savvy with the ball, but we feel good about either one of them.”
*An offense that averaged 11.1 goals per game last season adds Eric Law, a sophomore who posted seven goals and two assists for Salisbury. Law, a Colorado native, is making the move from attack to midfield. “He’s going to be probably on our second midfield,” Tierney said. “He’s got great vision, he can invert because he’s been an attackman, he can feed, he can shoot it. Just a great young man who is such a welcome addition for us.”
*Because Denver won the inaugural ECAC Tournament, the Pioneers will serve as hosts for this spring’s conference tournament. If it could finish in the top four to qualify for the tournament, Denver would seem to have a unique home-field advantage. But Tierney pointed out that when he coached at Princeton, the Tigers failed to reach the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in the three years they hosted that round. “So I’m not assuming anything,” Tierney said. “We are hosting the conference tournament – whether we’re in it or not. If we get in it, then I think certainly in the minds of the teams hat have to come out here, it’s a situation that could be an advantage for us. We’re playing at our home stadium. … I think Denver is a phenomenal place to host any kind of lacrosse event, and now with the ECAC Tournament coming here, it’s another exciting event to chalk up and add to the growth of college lacrosse and all lacrosse out here.”