DU Men’s Lacrosse Hopes Depth and Experience Can Lead Them to Another National Title
Faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste projected to have another big year
When time ran out on the 2015 lacrosse season, the University of Denver was the last team standing. They were crowned national champions for the first time in program history.
Fast forward three years and only a small group of seniors remain from that title team, led by captains Connor Donahue, Sean Mayle and Trevor Baptiste.
“We have three great captains this year and a great senior class,” says head coach Bill Tierney. “They have been through everything before, they won a national championship as freshmen. They have been great, and not just on the field, but off the field as well, teaching the culture to our freshmen.”
Baptiste enters the season considered the best faceoff man in college lacrosse, and by season’s end, he could be the best to ever play. He is currently third in NCAA history in career faceoff wins and fifth in career ground balls.
“I try to just take it one faceoff at a time and play the best that I can for my team,” Baptiste says. “I definitely don’t like losing. Coach [Tierney] told me when I was a freshman, ‘you’ve got to keep your emotions calm as a faceoff guy. You can never let your highs get too high or your lows get too low. You have to be steadfast.’ But it definitely gives me a little itch under my skin if I’m losing a lot in one day.”
Baptiste’s teammates admit they are sometimes in awe of what he does on the field. “It’s incredible to have someone like that on our team,” says goalie Alex Ready. “Sometimes you have to take a step back and appreciate just how great he is.”
Ready has started every game in net for the Pioneers since arriving as a freshman. Now as a junior, he has some new help in the form of Ryan LaPlante. The goalie from the 2015 championship team has returned to the Pioneers to coach Ready and the other goalies on the team.
“What [LaPlante] has done for their skillset is amazing, but more importantly he brings to them the mentality that goalies need,” Tierney says. “Ryan knows their psyche and how to deal with them, and certainly Alex coming back as a third-year starter is benefitting greatly from having Ryan around.”
The depth and experience of this year’s squad will help the team navigate a difficult schedule. The Pioneers have road matches against Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Villanova. “We want to play as well as we can and we want to see what we are made of. The only way to do that is to get the best from our opponents,” Ready says.
What might be more difficult than the road schedule is the fact that DU has only five home games this season. For the seniors, this means every game at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium is an important one.
“It’s definitely my favorite place to play,” Baptiste says. “I think for me and my entire class, we only have five games left on this field, and we want this to be the best possible experience ever. I think we can really do some great things this year and I’m excited about it.”