Denver vs. Fairfield
April 5, 2002
The Game Story:
DENVER - The University of Denver men's lacrosse team rallied with four goals in the fourth quarter to force overtime, but failed to convert in the extra periods and suffered a heartbreaking loss to Fairfield, 12-11 in double overtime in a Great Western Lacrosse League game on Friday night (Apr. 5) at Pioneer Field. With the loss Denver falls to 4-5 on the season, 0-2 in league play. Fairfield improves to 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the league with its second straight win over GWLL opponents.

Denver failed to score on its first three offensive possessions and yielded two goals to the visitors in the opening minutes of the contest, but a two goal rally midway through the quarter tied the game, 2-2. Sophomore Jeff Biggs (St. Louis, Mo.) one-timed a pass from junior Mike Kenlay (Wilmette, Ill.) to end Fairfield's rally and cut the deficit in half. Freshman Darren Sasaki-Scanlon (Norwalk, Conn.) netted the equalizer on Denver's second extra-man opportunity, but the Stags won the ensuing face-off and scored nine seconds later to take a one-goal advantage into the first break.

Both teams scored two goals early in the second quarter before the Pioneers reeled off two straight to take their first lead of the game, 6-5 with just over four minutes to play in the half. Senior Chad Wittman (Colorado Springs, Colo.) scored off a feed from Kenlay, his fifth tally of the season, put the Pioneers ahead. The lead was short-lived, however, as Stags answered with a two-goal rally of their own to take a 7-6 lead into the halftime recess.

Fairfield controlled possession for much of the third quarter and extended its lead on a goal by Matt Buecker, his second of the night, but the Pioneers regrouped late in the frame and pulled to within one, 8-7 on a goal by freshman Matt Brown (Burnaby, B.C.). Brown collected a rebound in front of the net and chipped the ball by Stag goalie C.J. Kemp with forty-three seconds left in the period to register his team-leading 26th goal of the season and extend his scoring streak to nine games.

The Stags struck with two quick goals to open fourth quarter and took a three-goal lead, its largest advantage of the game, 10-7, but were unable to maintain the lead for long. Denver reeled off three unanswered goals midway through the stanza and turned the momentum late in the game. Freshman Ben Dougherty (Glenwood, Md.) ignited the crowd and the offensive attack with his third tally of the year on a fast break and Brown continued the barrage with his second goal of the night, an extra-man tally to pull Denver within one. Freshman Scott Davidson (Guilford, Conn.) scored 15 seconds later off of the ensuing face-off and tied the game, 10-10 with just over seven minutes remaining and brought the Pioneer faithful to their feet.

Fairfield took the lead seven seconds later to end the rally and regain the momentum, but a goal by Biggs, his second of the contest, knotted the game , 11-11 with three minutes to play. The Pioneers controlled possession late in the game and peppered Kemp with three shots but failed to get the ball in the net. The Stags collected a loose ground ball and stormed down the field for the game-winner, but junior netminder Jeff Nunziato (Latham, N.Y.) made a game-saving stop on the wide-open shot to force the game into extra periods.

Both teams increased the defensive pressure in the first overtime period and failed to surrender a legitimate scoring chance. Fairfield dominated play in the second overtime and recorded the game-winning goal with just over a minute remaining to earn the its second league victory of the season and hand the Pioneers their third consecutive loss at home. Denver out-shot Fairfield 41-32 in the game, but lost the groundball battle 32-25 and failed on six clear attempts. The Pioneers special teams unit played well for Denver scoring two extra-man goals on three tries, but yielded a man-down goal to the Stags on their lone attempt.

The Pioneers will conclude their home schedule and celebrate senior night next Friday (Apr. 12) when they play host to in-state rival Colorado College in a non-conference tilt at 7:30 p.m. mountain time.