GRANVILLE, Ohio-- Denison men's lacrosse has risen to No. 2 in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Top-20 Coaches Poll. The number two national ranking marks Denison's highest climb in the poll since the NCAA era of lacrosse was established in 1974.
The Big Red, who has long been one of the top collegiate programs in the nation, have inserted themselves into the national championship conversation following consecutive Elite Eight appearances and last year's one-goal loss to eventual national champion, Salisbury in the Final Four. Since 2016, Denison is 41-4 (.911) with five NCAA Tournament victories.
"We are excited to get this recognition for our play so far this season," noted Denison head coach Mike Caravana. "The team has worked hard through the years to earn the respect that comes along with this ranking. We have many challenging opponents ahead and we certainly realize that we will have to play very well to continue our success. We look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead and we will keep working to continue our quest for improvement each and every game."
Faced with arguably its most difficult schedule in program history, Denison is off to a fantastic start in 2018. They are currently 5-0 heading into this weekend's Mustang Classic at Stevenson University. With wins over nationally ranked Washington and Lee, Roanoke and Stevenson already under their belt, DU will square off against No. 10 Amherst on Friday, March 17 and No. 16 Dickinson on Saturday, March 18 in Owings Mills, Maryland.
The schedule doesn't lighten after this weekend, however. Denison will host perennial power, Middlebury, on Tuesday, March 27 before closing the season with North Coast Athletic Conference play from March 31 through April 21. The game that everyone has circled on their calendar is the annual showdown with No. 15 Ohio Wesleyan that will take place on Sunday, April 15 at Denison's Piper Stadium.
Sophomore attackman Peter Pittroff has assumed the role vacated by career assist leader Liam Rooney. Pittroff leads the team in points (10 goals; 19 assists). He has been named to the USILA National Team of the Week on two occasions this season and his goal with eight seconds left in regulation sent the Big Red to an 11-10 win over Stevenson on Feb. 25.
Henry DeCamp boasts a .684 faceoff percentage and is coming off a historic 21-for-21 showing against DePauw on March 10. Two-time All-American defenseman Ben Duhoski has returned to the fold along with fellow long pole Liam Burman to shore-up a defense that is allowing only 6.6 goals per game.
With one one-third of the season in the books, 2018 is shaping up to be an extraordinary one for Denison men's lacrosse.
Editorial Note: Denison was ranked No. 1 at the conclusion of the 1968 season in the College Division after going 10-1 and winning its final nine games of the season.