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US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Men’s Preseason Top 20 on Dec. 17. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on through the end of the month and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition in February.

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No. 9 Denver

2019 Record: 10-5 (4-1, Big East)
Coach: Bill Tierney (11th year)
Assistants: Matt Brown, John Gallant, Erik Adamson
All-Time Record: 428-290-2
NCAA Appearances: 11
Final Fours: 5
Championships: 1

2020 Schedule

Feb. 8 @ Air Force
Feb. 15 Duke
Feb. 22 St. Bonaventure
Feb. 23 Cleveland State
March 1 North Carolina
March 7 @ Notre Dame
March 15 @ Ohio State
March 21 Towson
March 28 @ Georgetown
April 4 @ Villanova
April 11 St. John's
April 18 @ Providence
April 24 Marquette

Save the Date
March 28

It was Georgetown, which upended Denver in the Big East semifinals, that ended the Pioneers’ streak of nine consecutive NCAA tournament appearances last spring. Denver gets a rematch on March 28 in its Big East opener in Washington. Denver is 6-0 in the regular season against the Hoyas since joining the Big East, but 1-2 in the league tournament.

Tierney Sees Freshman Class Brimming with Potential

Only two teams in Division I lost a larger percentage of its starts to graduation than Denver. And Pioneers coach Bill Tierney knows full well how outsiders might size up his team as he starts his second decade in the Mile High City.

“I do think that’s going to be the big question,” Tierney said. “When they rank us low or lower [than usual], it’s going to be because of the young defense and the question mark in the goal.”

The Pioneers fielded a top-five scoring defense while missing out on the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009 last spring, but even that group had a lot of moving pieces. Senior defenseman Dylan Johnson played only five games before a season-ending injury, and Cole French had a four-game starting stint at goalie.

Yet even with some instability last year, there are few sure things on defense besides senior Colin Squires. It’s possible the likes of senior Chris Sullivan and junior Mac Tezak emerge as steady options in a rebuilt defense.

But Tierney also walked out of the fall impressed with a freshman class brimming with potential contributors.

“We have some long, fast, athletic, tough kids who will be our future when it comes to our defense in the next 3-4 years,” Tierney said. “Do you go with door No. 1 or door No. 2? At some point, somebody is going to win these jobs.”

In truth, it will probably be a hybrid of both options. Buffalo product Jack DiBenedetto would surely be in the mix at this stage, as would both Adam Hangland and AJ Mercurio. The youth movement also extends to long pole, where Malik Sparrow will be in the rotation.

“Malik Sparrow is a freshman people are going to know about this season,” Tierney said. “This guy is going to make an impact. He’s fast, tough and picks up ground balls.”

There isn’t a complete lack of experience in the cage, where both French and senior Josh Matte (nine starts in 2018) have seen meaningful time. They’re part of a five-goalie scrum as the Pioneers try to fortify the position.

 “It depends on how you look at it,” Tierney said. “Looking at my positive side, I think they’re very capable goalies. From my negative side, and what I told them in individual meetings is I want one of these guys to explode here.”

Achieve some certainty there — and on close defense — and Denver could have all the answers it needs for a stellar season.

Projected Starters

A – Ethan Walker – Sr. – 39 G, 13 A
A – Johnny Marrocco – So. – 4 G, 3 A
A – JJ Sillstrop – Fr. – 65 G, 35 A (high school)
M – Ted Sullivan – Jr. – 17 G, 8 A
M – Jack Hannah – Jr. – 16 G, 18 A
M – Alex Simmons – So. – 12 G, 4 A
FO – Brett Boos – So. – 59.3 FO%, 87 GB
LSM – Oliver Dina – R-So. – 1 GB, 1 CT
SSDM – Danny Logan – Sr. – 55 GB, 16 CT
D – Colin Squires – Sr. – 23 GB, 9 CT
D – Mac Tezak – Jr. – 1 GB, 1 CT
D – Chris Sullivan – Sr. – 2 GB
G – Cole French – So. – 9.63 GAA, 47.1 SV%

Tewaaraton Watch
Ethan Walker, Sr., A

After complementing Connor Cannizzaro as a freshman, Walker has drawn much more attention the last two seasons. He enters the year fifth in Pioneer history in points (194), sixth in goals (127) and tied for ninth in assists (67) and again will be a major influence on the course of Denver’s season as a senior.

X Factor
Danny Logan, Sr., M

Arguably Denver’s most valuable player, Logan is a wing on nearly every faceoff and exceptional ground ball magnet who Tierney believes is the nation’s best defensive midfielder. Plus, he’s fast, an able shooter and a positive leader. “If you can get all his traits in four players, you feel good,” Tierney said. “But with him, it’s all wrapped up into one guy.”

National Rankings

Offense 24th 12.07 GPG
Defense 5th 9.33 GAA
Faceoffs 16th 58.6%
Ground Balls 21st 33.13/game
Caused TO 14th 9.8/game
Shooting 38th 28.3%
Man-Up 70th 21.3%
Man-Down 22nd 68.3%


Denver is 30-1 in Big East regular-season play since joining the conference in 2014. While the Pioneers have dropped games in the Big East tournament the last four years, last season’s 12-11 defeat to Villanova was the program’s first Big East regular-season setback.

Enemy Lines

“Deeper and stronger on offense. New-look defense could take a while. Two big-time faceoff guys could give DU a possession advantage a la Trevor Baptiste days.”