Freshman Marano Rescues Denver in Fourth Quarter
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Nate Marano, one of four freshmen starting for reigning NCAA champion Denver in its 2016 season opener, scored the game-tying and winning goals Saturday to lift the second-ranked Pioneers to a 10-9 victory over Air Force at Cadet Lacrosse Stadium. Marano led all scorers with four goals.
Denver jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first quarter and led 8-4 at halftime thanks largely to freshman goalie Alex Ready's 10 first-half saves and sophomore faceoff man Trevor Baptiste's 12-for-14 performance. Baptiste, the NCAA's faceoff leader as a freshman last season, finished 16-for-23.
But the Pioneers would not score again until 4:43 left in the fourth quarter. Air Force came out firing in the second half, rattling off five straight goals from five different scorers to take a 9-8 lead going into the final stanza. For the third quarter, at least, the Falcons solved Baptiste, securing four of six faceoffs to fuel the rally.
Denver's scoring drought lasted nearly 28 minutes before Marano grabbed a rebound off of a shot by Connor Cannizzaro and deposited it to tie the game at 9 with 4:43 remaining. Then Marano finished off a feed from Jack Bobzien for the game-winning goal with 1:53 left. The goal came after a possession-saving ground ball by Zach Miller, as nothing came easily for the Pioneers.
"Just like the Hopkins scrimmage, we came out and played very well in the first quarter, did what we do and played how we're coached. Things went well to start for us," Denver coach Bill Tierney said. "After that in the second quarter things slowed down a little bit. They get a cross check call in the corner and score on the man-up, its 8-4 and now everyone's getting a little antsy. Give all the credit to Air Force though, those kids down 6-1 could have folded, but they didn't. They gave it everything they had."
Air Force (0-2) also had No. 15 Navy on the ropes last week before fading in the fourth quarter. The Falcons outshot the Pioneers 40-27.
"We have a pretty resilient group. That's been characteristic of Air Force teams forever," Air Force coach Eric Seremet said. "There are no moral victories. Our players need to figure out a way to get it done. We believe in ourselves. We believe we could have won that game. ... We can't spot the defending national champions six goals then crawl our way back, but we did and we did crawl back because we've got some pretty tough kids who are starting to believe in themselves."
Eight different players scored for the Falcons, led by Cameron Carter's two goals.
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