DELAWARE, Ohio—Eleventh-ranked Denison jumped out to a 4-1 lead after the first quarter and kept the pedal to the metal en route to a 14-7 victory over ninth-ranked Ohio Wesleyan in the championship of the North Coast Athletic Conference men's lacrosse tournament.
With the win, Denison receives the NCAC's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The bracket for the 2018 tournament will not be announced until Sunday, May 6.
After suffering a 13-8 loss to the Battling Bishops on April 15, Denison was seeking redemption against their arch-rivals from Delaware. They were also looking to take any postseason decisions out of the hands of the selection committee.
DU set the tone early. After OWU scored the first goal of the game, the Big Red responded with four-straight goals to close out the first quarter.
In the second, Ohio Wesleyan's Cole Jamieson opened with an unassisted goal but with 7:52 left in the first half, the first penalty of the game was called on OWU's Peter Hamblett. The Big Red converted the EMO when Peter Pittroff found Spencer Butler for his third goal of the game.
Just over a minute later, DU struck again when Jake Waxter ripped a shot to the upper right corner for his first of two goals on the afternoon. The Battling Bishops cut the Denison lead to three with 28 seconds left in the second quarter and it looked as if they were going to carry some momentum into the intermission.
OWU won the ensuing faceoff but quickly turned it over. Peter Doering got Denison out in transition and found Pittroff who finished at the other end of the field with 10 seconds left in the second. The goal sucked the life out of Selby Stadium and sent the Big Red into halftime with a 9-4 lead.
In the second half, Denison continued to control possession at the faceoff X and that contributed to four more goals. By the end of the third, the Big Red had things under control with a 12-5 lead.
That lead grew to 14-5 when Brooks Davy scored two goals in a span of 22 seconds in the fourth quarter.
Butler finished with four goals on 11 shots and FOGO Henry DeCamp was 18-for-25 with 11 ground balls and one goal. Pittroffscored twice and added three assists, running his season assist total to 63 and Davy notched a hat-trick and one assist on 11 shots.
The scoring was rounded out by Waxter (two goals), Hannibal George (one goal) and Owen Armstrong (one goal). First-year goalie Reeves McKenney was outstanding in his first career start against the Battling Bishops. He posted nine saves while facing 16 shots in 60 minutes of action and was named the NCAC Tournament MVP in the postseason awards ceremony. Also landing All-Tournament team honors was Armstrong, Butler, George and Liam Burman.
Denison held a 39-31 advantage in shots and the Big Red was 2-for-4 in extra-man situations. Denison committed only one penalty while OWU was flagged four times for 3:30.
The Big Red improves to 15-3 and Ohio Wesleyan drops to 15-3. This marked the sixth NCAC Men's Lacrosse Tournament and Denison leads all member schools with four NCAC Tournament titles. This will also mark Denison's 23rd trip to the NCAA Tournament.