GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Led by sophomore Rachael McKinnon’s four points, Denver defeated Jacksonville 12-8 in the NCAA tournament on Friday afternoon. The Pioneers advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year in a rematch against the Florida Gators on Sunday.
McKinnon’s four points came off three goals and one assist. Her four points tied a season high, reached seven previous times this year, including the MPSF tournament semifinal against Oregon on May 2.
“Jacksonville is a talented, well-coached team,” head coach Liza Kelly said. “I don’t think we played our best lacrosse, but I am really proud of how hard we fought today.”
With the win against the Dolphins (14-6), the Pioneers (19-1) set a school record for the most wins in a single season. Last year marked the previous record when the team finished 18-3.
Additionally, Denver continues its school-record 17-game winning streak. Last year’s mark of 15 wins in a row was the previous longest winning streak in DU history.
After falling behind 2-0 in the opening five minutes, McKinnon rattled off three consecutive goals in a 2:12 span, giving the Pioneers a 3-2 lead at the 18:51 mark. Denver would exchange goals with Jacksonville before heading into the half with an 8-6 lead.
“Rachael has been so strong and consistent for us this spring,” Kelly said. “She is one of the hardest workers that I have ever coached. I am really excited to see her and the team reap the rewards.”
The Dolphins opened the second half scoring before the Pioneers found the back of the net with four goals in a row, giving DU a 12-7 lead with 4:18 left in regulation.
Senior Jenn Etzel finished with two goals, an assist, and three groundballs, while junior Kiki Boone recorded two goals, a groundball, and a team high seven draw controls.
“I think we played well as a team today,” Boone said. “We worked hard and got it done, even though it wasn’t the best lacrosse we’ve played. The draw has been a focus for me as a player at DU. I have a great draw team behind me and it’s exciting to get seven today against a challenging team.”
Redshirt junior Hannah Hook made eight saves for DU, including seven in the second half. The Pioneers were outshot 26-22 during the game, while Denver and Jacksonville split draw controls at 11 apiece. The Crimson and Gold successfully converted 15-of-20 clear attempts, while JU went 10-of-12 on clears.
“It’s going to be a fun matchup against Florida on Sunday,” Kelly said. “It’s always fun to play teams you haven’t seen all year. Florida has done a great job of hosting both this year and last. They’ve been so gracious and the field looks great. It will be fun for us to face a tough team like the Gators and to see if we are up to the challenge.”
The Pioneers continue their NCAA tournament run against the Gators on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The game will be held at Donald R. Dizney Lacrosse Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.