VILLANOVA, Pa. - Junior Connor Cannizzaro netted his second-career sock trick, including the game-winner with 2:58 to play to send the University of Denver men's lacrosse team to a 12-11 BIG EAST victory over Villanova in horizontal snowing conditions on Saturday afternoon at Villanova Stadium.
"I'm not sure that if we played this game in sunny and 70 (the weather in Denver on Saturday), it wouldn't have been a one goal game," head coach Bill Tierney said. "The way these two offenses play, it might have been 17-16. I'm proud of the guys for just fighting through this thing. Villanova's a very good team and I'm just happy to get out of here with a win."
Junior Zach Miller had two goals and two helperson Saturday, including the game-tying goal with 3:07 to play in regulation. Sophomore Connor Donahue was Denver's only other multi-goal scorer with a pair. Junior Tyler Pace tallied three assists in the game, including his feed to Miller on the game-tying goal.
Freshman netminder Alex Ready made a season-high 16 saves in yellow-ball snowy conditions on Saturday. Sophomore Trevor Baptiste won 16 of 27 faceoffs, his 20th career game with 15+ faceoff wins.
Freshman Dylan Johnson netted his first career goal to open the scoring in transition to give the Pioneers (9-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) an early 1-0 lead off the clear. Donahue scored 20 seconds later off a scramble play that originally came out of the crosse of Cannizzaro. Villanova (6-4, 0-2 BIG EAST) answered with two goals of its own to even the score at 2-2 just inside 3:30 into the game.
The Pioneers ended the first quarter on a 3-0 spurt with goals from Cannizzaro, Miller and Donahue's second of the day. All three goals in Denver's mini-run to end the quarter were assisted.
Villanova outscored Denver 4-2 in the second quarter, ending the half on a 4-1 run in the final 12:25 of the stanza. Senior captain Jack Bobzien opened the frame with a goal to make it 6-2, 41 seconds into the period. The Froccaro brothers scored goals on either side of Cannizzaro's 25th of the season to make it 7-4 with 9:44 to play in the half. Nova's Danny Seibel and Jack Curran closed the scoring in the second quarter, as neither team scored in the final 5:16. Denver took a 7-6 lead into the intermission.
Denver scored the only three goals of the third period, as Cannizzaro posted a third-quarter hat trick on assists from Miller, Pace and sophomore long stick midfielder Sean Mayle. DU took a four-goal lead at 10-6 into the final frame.
The Wildcats stormed out to a 5-0 run in the first 9:22 in the fourth quarter to take their first lead of the day at 11-10 with 6:38 to play. Matching Denver's late-game scoring at North Carolina this year, Miller tied the game, this time with 3:07 to play in the fourth, and Cannizzaro netted the game winner, this time in regulation, scoring with 2:58 to go to put the Pioneers ahead for good.
Pace fed Miller who finished from 12-yards out to tie the game at 11-11 was the second connection between the two hotel roommates on the day. Nine seconds later, Cannizzaro completed his sock trick as Baptiste won the faceoff, and found Cannizzaro at the point to give the junior the opportunity to finish his 29th goal of the season.
"I had some games like that in high school in upstate New York," Cannizzaro said of the weather conditions on Saturday. "We knew it was going to be a battle out there, and we're happy to pull out the win in the end.