Pioneers Target First Final Four Appearance in Program History
DU plays No. 1 ranked Maryland on Saturday evening
From the onset of the women’s lacrosse season, the University of Denver has been talking about one goal — winning a national championship.
“We played this year with a lot more confidence and swagger,” says Liza Kelly, who is in her 12th season as DU’s head coach. “The reality is, we were four games away from a national championship last year, and four games is not really that much. Now we are three games away, and only one game away from a final four appearance. Anything can happen in 60 minutes.”
DU advances to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament after upsetting No. 13 USC and No. 8 Michigan last weekend. It’s the first time in program history that the women’s lacrosse team has advanced to the Elite Eight.
“We had a good feeling about the games and were confident in our abilities to beat both of them,” says sophomore Quintin Hoch-Bullen, who led the Pioneers with five goals in the team’s 9-5 win over Michigan. “We knew from the start of the season that we had a group of girls that was good enough to get to this point.”
While the seniors on the team may not stand out in the box score, Hoch-Bullen and Kelly both attribute their success to the senior class and their leadership.
“We have an incredible senior class,” Kelly says. “All 10 of them play incredible roles on and off the field for us, and I think they are the right kind of people that you want on a team because they push everybody to want to do their best for the team. I think we’ve had this mentality that we want to keep going to reward this senior class for everything that they have done for us and the program.”
There’s no time for rest for the Pioneers. After two games last weekend, they will be back on the road this weekend against top-ranked Maryland. The last time these two teams met, the Terrapins ended DU’s 2018 season with a 15-4 victory in the Sweet 16.
“We’ve believed it all season that we have a group of girls that could get to this position and that we could play on Memorial Day weekend,” Hoch-Bullen says. “We are happy with how things have already gone this season, but our goal is to win a national championship. That’s what we are looking forward to, and that’s what we are working for every day.”
Saturday’s game against Maryland begins at 5 p.m. MST. You can watch the action on the Big Ten Network.