May 2, 2014

Seniors Lead Denver Back to MPSF Title Game

from press release

DENVER - University of Denver seniors Jenn Etzel (Bel Air, Md.) and Meredith Harris (Middleburg, Va.) led the Pioneers with a combined 15 points, as DU upended Oregon 18-9 in the MPSF Semifinals on Friday afternoon. With the win, the Pioneers advance to the MPSF Championship for the second-consecutive year and sixth time in school history.

Harris finished the game with five goals and three assists, while Etzel had a hat trick and four assists, one shy of her career high set earlier this season on senior day against Old Dominion on April 20. Sophomore Rachael McKinnon (Brooklin, Ontario) added three goals and an assist, and senior Sonorah Vinyard (Alexandria Va.) recorded a team high seven draw controls to go along with her two groundballs.

Denver (17-1) extended its winning streak to 15 games, tying last year’s school record, while the Ducks (11-8) season came to an end.

“I’m really excited about this win today,” said head coach Liza Kelly. “We played Oregon last week and we knew they were going to bring something different today against us. Kiki and Sonorah have been great for us on the draw this season. We’re excited to win today, but we need to focus on Sunday. Colorado and Stanford are both good teams. We’re excited to see who we’re going to play.”

All four of Etzel’s assists came off goals from Harris as they combined for eight of DU’s 18 goals.

Harris opened the Pioneer scoring just 55 seconds into the game, coming off an assist from Etzel. Denver jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first half before the Ducks got on board at the 9:39 mark.

“We worked as a group today and that was key from us,” said Harris. “Oregon had a high pressure defense on us, but we handled it well.”

Denver outshot Oregon 31-26, while redshirt junior Hannah Hook (Arnold, Md.) recorded 10 saves. The Pioneers held a 16-14 advantage in groundballs, while the Ducks had a 15-14 edge in draw controls.

“It comes down to the defense which allows me to see the shots I need to save,” said Hook. “It’s always great to get out to a large lead, but we need to keep the pressure on the opposing team. It’s always fun to go on these long win streaks and change the program as a whole. Hopefully we can continue to do that with a win on Sunday.”

Denver was successful on 15-of-16 clears, while Oregon went 10-of-17 in clear attempts.

The Pioneers will take on the winner of Stanford vs. Colorado in the MPSF Championship on Sunday at 11 a.m. MT.

Denver is 1-0 against Colorado with a 15-4 victory at home earlier this year on Feb. 19. The Buffs are in their inaugural year of Division I women’s lacrosse.

DU is 0-6 all-time against Stanford in the MPSF Tournament with five of those losses coming in the MPSF Championship game. Of Denver’s five championship appearances, four of the Pioneers’ losses have come by a single goal, including last year’s 7-6 loss on May 4, 2013 in Eugene, Ore. Additionally, Denver and Stanford the last time DU hosted the MPSF Tournament in 2010, with the Pioneers falling 11-10 in double-overtime on a sudden victory goal.

The winner of the MPSF Tournament will earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Selections for the NCAA Tournament will be announced Sunday at 7 p.m. MT.

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