The Denver Pioneers closed out the regular season in style by defeating the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils, 15-9, in the inaugural Mile High Classic at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Pioneers head into the ECAC Tournament at their home field, Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium, with an 8-5 overall record and a 3-3 record in the ECAC. They will play No. 1 seed Loyola as the No. 4 seed.
Denver entered Friday's game on a two-game losing streak, but the Pioneers were playing hot from the first face-off. Chase Carraro and Wes Berg scored goals in the first 2:15 of the game, helped by an Alex Demopoulos assist each time. Mark Matthews scored the first of his five goals to make it 3-0 Pioneers with less than six minutes left in the first quarter.
Duke never was able to get a lead in this game, as they were able to tie the game at 5-5 with about two minutes left in the first half before Demopoulos put Denver back in the lead, 6-5, with 98 seconds remaining on the clock. That Demopoulos was the start of five straight goals by the Pioneers.
Duke did manage to close the gap to 11-9 several minutes into the final quarter of play, but Matthews' fifth goal of the game, Berg's and Carraro's second goal each of the game and Paul Danko's lone tally of the game secured the victory.
Freshman goaltender Ryan LaPlante made 16 saves in the victory.
Denver kicks off the ECAC Tournament on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. MT.
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