GRANVILLE, Ohio-- Denison men's lacrosse captured the 2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament championship following a 17-11 victory over Ohio Wesleyan on Sunday at Piper Stadium. This is Denison's fifth NCAC Tournament championship since it was introduced by the conference in 2013.
Sophomore goalie Reeves McKenney turned in a career-high 21 saves and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player in the postgame awards ceremony. McKenney posted six saves in the first quarter, helping offset Ohio Wesleyan's hot start. The Battling Bishops took a 4-1 first quarter lead after Max Tennant's man-up goal with 4:35 left in the period.
Denison came alive in the second, outscoring the Bishops 6-1 behind two goals from Spencer Butler and goals from Jake Waxter, Brooks Davy, Owen Armstrong, and Sam Asman. The scoring flurry allowed DU to take an 8-5 lead into halftime.
The Battling Bishops roared out of the gates once again, scoring three-straight goals to open the second half, knotting the game at 8-8.
With the score tied 9-9 late in the third, Camden Bowdy found Jake Waxter who scored his second goal of the afternoon. With 1:21 left in the third, Chris Haimbaugh dodged and scored at the doorstep to put DU on top, 11-9.
Denison went on to score three goals over the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter to take a five-goal lead. With 44 seconds remaining, Peter Pittroff connected with LSM Aidan O'Neill on the final of the game. The assist moved Pittroff past Liam Rooney '17 as Denison's career leader in assists with 163.
Another career record was broken on Sunday as senior faceoff specialist Henry DeCamp became the all-time leader in ground balls, passing Eric Baumgardner '16. DeCamp was brilliant in this year's NCAC Tournament. After returning from a lengthy injury last Saturday in the regular season finale versus Ohio Wesleyan, he went 24-for-28 with 20 ground balls against Wooster and was 23-of-31 with 18 GB's against OWU. He was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Michael Bomes, Davy, and Waxter.
The Big Red held a decisive 60-40 advantage in shots and a 37-26 lead in ground balls. Ohio Wesleyan goalie Joey Sichenzia finished with 15 saves while Tennant and Steven Hildebrand tallied four goals apiece.
Davy led Denison's offense with four goals and one assist. Waxter scored twice with four assists. Asman and Haimbaugh scored a pair of goals while Bowdy scored once with two assists.
With the win, Denison advances to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the 24th time in program history. The Big Red improves to 56-47-1 all-time against Ohio Wesleyan. Over the last decade, the Big Red holds a 14-5 advantage in rivalry games with the Battling Bishops.
The NCAA Division III Selection Show will take place on Sunday, May 5 at 9 p.m. on NCAA.com.