Philadelphia – The Denver Pioneers did something no team west of the Mississippi has ever done before: win the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse national championship. They earned the distinction by knocking off the Maryland Terrapins (15-4), 10-5, on Memorial Day at Lincoln Financial Field.
Ryan LaPlante stood tall in goal for Denver (17-2) and registered double-digit saves for the Pioneers.
Senior co-captain and former Team Canada gold medalist Wes Berg continued his torrid scoring ways with five goals and led the Pioneers to victory in their first-ever appearance in an NCAA title game. Berg will next play as a professional for the MLL’s defending champion Denver Outlaws.
The last time a first-appearance team won the title was when Denver head coach Bill Tierney was in still at the helm of Princeton in 1992. It was the first of six national championships that Tierney brought to Nassau Street before departing for Denver in 2009.
“He’s not just made me a better player, but a better person,” Berg said of Tierney after the championship win.
The loss extended the Maryland Terps’ losing streak in title games to eight, dating back to their last championship in 1975.
Despite the setback Maryland continued the unprecedented streak of never having endured a losing season in the history of the program dating formally back to 1920 (full varsity) and informally (varsity/club combinations) to the late 19th century.