Editor’s note: LAS was lucky enough to have live coverage of last weekend’s ESPNU Warrior Classic in East Hartford, CT. Here is an overview of the great event from our correspondent Luke Marlow.
Saturday was a beautiful day for lacrosse in East Hartford, CT, high 60’s with minimum cloud coverage, a perfect day to start working on that base tan.
The first annual ESPNU Warrior Classic drew a decent sized crowd to UCONN’s Rentschler Field as those in attendance was treated to two games featuring top 20 ranked teams as Denver took on Fairfield in the 11 am game and UMASS battled Georgetown in the second contest.
A nice size crowd enjoyed the pre-game festivities, whether it was the adults taking advantage of the perfect tailgating weather or the groms looking to impress the surprisingly present Mikey Powell with some of their stick skills over at the Warrior Showcase area.
Luckily the lacrosse action for the day was on par with the weather, as the first game saw the Bill Tierney led Denver Pioneers take on the Fairfield Stags.
Excitement at finally getting to see the Pioneers under Tierney gave way to initial disappointment as Denver came out sloppy, turning the ball over 18 times in the game (12 in the first half) and badly struggling with clears. Not your typical signs of a Tierney coached squad.
Fairfield is the type of team that loves to slow down the game and rely on their solid defense and Senior keeper Joseph Marra to keep it close but they failed to take advantage of Denver’s sloppy opening frame and only had a 5-3 lead to show for it at half.
Denver needed to come out more focused in the second. They started off by dominating face-offs and pumping up the intensity on offense to grab a few quick goals early to tie the game up.
Fairfield reacted by taking more time with their possessions, looking to get that quality shots, but Denver’s defense and Maine-bred goalie Peter Lowell kept the game close.
On the other end of the field Denver’s offense began to find its rhythm with goals from Connecticut native Alex Demopoulos and Oregonian Patrick Rogers.
While Fairfield held the lead the entire game, Denver’s ability to keep it close paid off late with two goals by Mark Matthews in the final 5 minutes.
These scores proved the difference gave the Pioneers much needed conference win, keeping them undefeated in the ECAC as their big game against Loyola approaches next week.
Sam Snow led they way for the Stags with 3 goals and an assist.
For all the patience and ball possession we were treated to in the first contest, UMASS and Georgetown had a totally different type of lacrosse game in mind.
With both teams needing a win to help their postseason chances and two former conference rivals renewing some bad blood, this game had potential to be a nail-biter.
Spoiler alert: it lived up to the expectations.
The Hoyas are stocked with big athletic midfielders with cannon shots and quick scoring capability while UMASS was full of quick attackmen (like Freshman Will Manny) who use quick cuts to get open shots around the cage.
From the first whistle this was a more up-and-down contest, with Georgetown taking an early lead on goals from Andrew Brancacaccio and Max Seligmann and a couple assists from playmaker Craig Dowd.
For all of Georgetown’s groundball efficiency, UMass converted on the offensive end taking advantage of an often flat Hoya defense with a nice four goal run in the second half to take a 7-6 lead midway through the contest.
Most of the third quarter saw the teams slowing the up-and-down pace to a more familiar possession game only to return to back and forth action when things got closer in the 4th.
The lead went back and forth several times in the final few minutes before UMASS senior Christian Hain put the go-ahead goal past C.T. Fisher with only 33 seconds on the clock.
Georgetown only had one more shot at the cage, but Brancaccio, who led the Hoyas with 5 goals and had a stellar game, couldn’t hold onto the ball in the final seconds as the Gorillas and their passionate fans celebrated the upset at Rentschler Field.
Overall it was a great event and hopefully the Warrior Classic returns to UConn next year.