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Denver Athletics | March 14, 2016

Miller's overtime goal pushes Pioneers past Notre Dame

  Zach Miller scores the golden goal for the second consecutive year over Notre Dame.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Junior Zach Miller scored 1:58 into overtime off a feed from classmate Connor Cannizzaro to extend the No. 2 Denver men's lacrosse team's winning streak to 19 games with a 9-8 overtime win at No. 1 Notre Dame on Sunday night at Arlotta Stadium.  Sunday marked the fifth time in the last six meetings that Denver and Notre Dame have gone to overtime. 

“Credit to Notre Dame, they did a great job in the fourth quarter getting back in the game,” head coach Bill Tierney said. “I thought our defense played really well other than that stretch. This was our best defensive performance by far this season. 

"You win a game at Notre Dame, no matter how you win it, you’re thankful and you feel good about it. We have to learn from the mistakes we made, especially in the fourth quarter, because you know they are going to be there Memorial Day Weekend.”

Miller got his hands free from eight-yards out in the middle of the field, received the pass from Cannizzaro and buried it past Notre Dame goalkeeper Shane Doss to send Denver to 6-0 on the year, and 3-0 against the ACC (all away from home). 

The Steamburg, N.Y., native had the only hat trick for the Pioneers in the game, the 10th of his career and his second of the season, while adding a helper to complete his four-point day. Cannizzaro also had four points for the Pioneers on a goal and three assists, stretching his nation-leading active goal streak to 31 games. 

Freshman netminder Alex Ready made a season-high 14 saves in the victory. Sophomore Trevor Baptiste went 12-for-21 from the faceoff dot on Sunday night, none bigger than the one in overtime that gave Denver the final possession of the game. Baptiste, who finished with 11 ground balls on the night, won it to himself to the side and took it all the way to the box to setup the Denver possession. 

Notre Dame jumped on the board first with a goal from its faceoff guy P.J. Finley 34 seconds into the game. Denver responded with a 6-0 run from five different scorers to take a 6-1 advantage with 5:20 to play in the second quarter. Cannizzaro had three points in the stretch, a goal and two assists.

ND’s Trevor Brosco and Denver junior captain Tyler Pace closed out the scoring in the first half as Pace’s 10th of the year sent Denver to the locker room with a 7-2 lead. All but one of Denver’s goals were assisted in the first half, and nine different Denver players had points in the first 30 minutes. Ready made nine saves in the first half.

Defense controlled the third quarter with combined stats between the two teams including 13 shots (10-3 Denver) seven turnovers and five saves (4-1 Denver). 

Notre Dame scored the first six goals of the second half, including four in a span of 43 seconds to take an 8-7 lead with 4:34 to play in regulation. Freshman Colton Jackson assisted Pace’s second of the night with 2:25 to go to knot things up at 8-8. Denver turned it over on its next possession after having the stall warning put on, and Notre Dame had the last chance in regulation. Denver’s defense stood firm and sent the game to an extra session. 

“The fourth quarter brought some flashbacks from Memorial Day Weekend,” Tierney said. “You can’t play to protect the lead, especially when you are playing a team like Notre Dame, and I thought we did that a little bit. To their credit, they made some hustle plays in that stretch and went on a run. When stretches like that happen, you just have to keep composure and I thought we did that to close out the game.”

Denver dominated on the ground Sunday, earning 43 of the 67 ground balls in the game.

Miller’s extra time goal was the eighth-game winner of the junior’s career. The Pioneers were two-for-two on the man-up, with both extra-man goals coming in the first quarter.

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