By Mark Haas
DENVER (CBS4) – When the Denver Pioneers lacrosse team meets Notre Dame in the NCAA quarterfinals on Saturday, you can expect some drama.
“Sports are supposed to be unpredictable, but you can pretty much predict overtime or a one-goal game,” said Bill Tierney, DU Men’s lacrosse coach.
In the last eight matchups between the teams, seven have been decided by just a goal, including five going to overtime.
“It is crazy there have been some where we have a lead and they caught up, or they have a lead and we caught up,” said Tierney.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series 12-8, but the Pioneers have won the last five, including the last four on the final shot of the game.
“It makes it exciting and unpredictable when they are that close,” said senior Connor Cannizzaro.
“I feel like we know every time we go against them it will be a good match-up, and they know the same thing,” said junior Trevor Baptiste.
In 2015, DU won 11-10 in overtime during the regular season, and again 11-10 in overtime of the NCAA semi-finals.
In 2016, the teams played in South Bend, Indiana, and DU won 10-9 in overtime; and earlier this season the Pioneers won 11-10, with the game-winning goal coming in the final seconds.
“It is really strange,” said Tierney on this current stretch of one-goal games. “It is hard to fathom that that could happen over the course of some years now.”
“We love playing them and it has turned into quite the rivalry,” said Cannizzaro.
In fact, the Pioneers say Notre Dame is their biggest rival.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” said Tierney. “A close second is Ohio State, but it is hard to not get the blood going for Notre Dame.”
“I think it’s Notre Dame, just the history between us and them,” said Baptiste. “We know we will get their best shot and they know they will get our best shot.”
So don’t be surprised if on Saturday the latest match-up once again come down to the final shot.