Drexel lacrosse braces for powerful Denver

Posted: May 19, 2014

Drexel is embracing its underdog role.

The Dragons did it last week against Penn before eliminating the Quakers in their first appearance in the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament. Heading into Sunday's quarterfinal meeting with streaking Denver they are equally welcoming of that role.

"This team has been to the final four - they have been ranked ahead of us all year," Drexel coach Brian Voelker said. "I don't think anybody is expecting us to win this game. But I think everybody here on our team believes we can do it. It is going to take a special effort."

With a trip to the final four hanging in the balance in their Sunday game at Delaware Stadium, Drexel (13-4), winner of nine straight games, has its work cut out against Denver (14-2), winner of 12 in a row.

Denver is making its fifth consecutive NCAA postseason appearance and the seventh in program history. Last season, the Pioneers advanced to their second national semifinal in three seasons, falling to Syracuse, 9-8, at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Pioneers are led by coach Bill Tierney, who left Princeton in 2009 after a 22-year career that produced six national championships and 14 Ivy League crowns.

Denver enters the game ranked third in the nation in scoring offense (13.18), third in scoring margin (4.94), and fourth in shot percentage (. 368). The Pioneers also don't beat themselves, committing on average the fewest turnovers per game (11.47).

Junior Wesley Berg and sophomore Jack Bobzien lead the Pioneers in scoring with 60 points apiece. Berg has 42 goals and 18 assists, while Bobzien has 39 goals and 21 assists. Senior Jeremy Noble leads the Pioneers with 31 assists.

Drexel freshman attack Cole Shafer shares the same hometown as Berg (Coquitlam, British Columbia), and the two play box lacrosse back home during the summer.

"He's a competitor and I know how he's approaching this game," Shafer said. "They are going to be hungry, but so are we. It's awesome that we are here but we don't want to stop playing after this weekend."


NCAA Lacrosse Quarterfinal

Sunday at 2:30 p.m., Delaware Stadium, Newark, Del.

Records: Denver 15-2, Drexel 13-4.

TV: ESPNU

Coaches: Denver, Bill Tierney, 65-22 in five seasons at Denver, 337-115 overall, six NCAA titles in 30 seasons; Drexel, Bill Voelker, 50-27 in five seasons at Drexel, 92-78 overall in 12 seasons.

Series: This is the third meeting in the series and each team has won once. Last meeting: March 24, 2009, a 9-8 Drexel win.


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer

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