No. 5 Denver Rides Hot Start in NCAA Win over Michigan 5/11/24

Photo Credit: Di Miller

By:  Niko Blankship

The Pioneers outscored Michigan 7-1 in the opening quarter en-route to a 16-11 win in-front of a sellout crowd at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium on Saturday evening

DENVER – The No. 5 seed University of Denver men’s lacrosse program shot out of a cannon in the opening 15 minutes on its way to a 16-11 win over visiting Michigan in the NCAA First Round on Saturday evening at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

Denver advances to take on the winner of No. 4 Syracuse and Towson on Sunday, May 19 in the NCAA Quarterfinal at Towson.

Photo Gallery:  DU Pioneers vs. Michigan Wolverines First Round NCAA Playoffs 5/11/24


  • Denver had three players finish with hat tricks on Saturday evening.
  •  Mic Kellyprovided the spark in the first half, scoring three times and adding two assists to lead the Pios with five points.
  • Attackmen JJ Sillstropand Cody Malawskyboth had hat tricks.
  • Casey Wilsonhad two goals and an assist in transition for a three-point day.
  • Richie Connellrounded out Denver’s multi-goal scorers with a pair in the first half.
  • Joshua Carlsonhad three helpers and Jack Tortolanihad a pair of feeds.
  • Denver’s defensive pressure was key in the first-half run. The Pios got multiple caused turnovers from Jimmy Freehill, Jack DiBenedettoand AJ Mercurio.
  • Malcolm Kleban made seven of his 10 saves in the second half, including four in the fourth.
  • Alec Stathakislost the faceoff battle overall, but went 5-of-7 in the fourth quarter to prevent another late Michigan run.


  • The Pioneers improved to 15-11 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 6-2 at home in the first round at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.
  • Denver’s 16 goals tied for its third-most in an NCAA Tournament game in the program’s history.
  • DU’s nine caused turnovers on the defensive end tied for the second-most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history.
  • JJ Sillstrop’shat trick was his fifth of the season and the 21st of his career.
    • Sillstrop’s three point day moved him into seventh in Denver’s Division I carer record book with 157, passing both Jack Hannah and Tyler Pace.
    • Sillstrop passed Erik Adamson and first-year William G. Tierney Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Matt Brownto move into fifth on Denver’s career goals chart with 114.
  • Mic Kelly’s hat trick was his fourth of the season and the fifth of his career.
  • Cody Malawskynetted his second hat trick of his rookie season.
  • Denver scored seven goals in the opening quarter, its most goals in a quarter since March 19, 2023 in the second quarter against Ohio State.
  • Joshua Carlson’sthree assists set a new career high.
  • AJ Mercuriobecame the sixth Pioneer to record 50 career caused turnovers, tying him with Danny Logan and Brendan Deblois for fourth in program history.
  • Malcolm Klebangot his 21st career win, tying for fifth in program history.
  • The Pioneers outshot Michigan 14-5 en-route to a 7-1 first quarter, matching the number of first quarter goals Denver had scored in the previous four games combined.
  • Denver improved to 3-0 all-time against Michigan (last meeting was in 2013).
  • The Pioneers had five different multi-goal scorers for the third time this season and the 22nd time since the start of the 2014 campaign.
  • Denver improved to 77-89 against ranked opponents in its Division I history, including 32-25 at home.
  • The Pioneers had three players with hat tricks for the first time this season and the 30th time since the start of the 2014 season.
  • DU improved to 125-26 at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium, since it was built in 2005.
  • The sellout of 2965 was the fifth-highest attendance in stadium history, and the highest NCAA Tournament attendance at PBLS. It was also the 61st sellout in the stadium’s history.
  • Denver lost the faceoff battle 17-14, but won the ground ball battle 31-23, including 11-4 during the first quarter run.

First Quarter:
Denver opened the game on a 9-1 run, including 7-1 in the opening quarter. Mic Kellyopened the scoring, netting Denver’s first two goals on either side of Ryan Cohen’s Michigan opener. Richie Connellcompleted a feed from Jack Tortolani, to make it 3-1 with 7:46 to go.

Cody Malawskyscored twice in the opening frame, sandwiching goals on either side of Michael Lampert’sfirst of the day to push the lead to 6-1 and then JJ Sillstropfinished a feed from Jake Edingerin transition to send Denver into the quarter break with a commanding six-goal advantage.

Second Quarter:
Connell ran over his defender and buried his 17th of the season to open the second frame, and then Casey Wilsonscored his first of two in the contest, getting free on the ride and benefitting from Jack DiBenedetto’slong-range clear to make it 9-1.

Michigan snapped its 18-minute scoring drought with a tally with 6:24 left to make it 9-2, but after the Wolverines killed off a 30 second Denver penalty, Daniel Clarkfinished a Noah Manningdime to provide the quick answer at 10-2 with 4:31 to play before halftime.

Justin Tiernan scored for the visitors to close out the half, but the Pios took a seven-goal advantage into the intermission.

Third Quarter:
Denver’s defense got a quick turnover off the opening faceoff of the half, and it led to Sillstrop’s second goal to make it 11-3.

Michigan got its feet under them and ripped off five goals in less than four minutes to quickly make it a game again at 11-8 with 8:50 to go in the third.

As they’ve done all year, the Pioneers responded with four-straight tallies, including the final two of the third quarter.

Kelly ripped the back of the net to finish off his hat trick and then Malawsky completed his hat trick off a feed from Carlson.

Malcolm Klebanmay have been the biggest source of momentum heading into the fourth, preventing a Michigan tally from close range in the final second of the frame to take Denver into the final 15 minutes with a five-goal advantage.

Fourth Quarter:
Kleban had a key double save early in the fourth before Wilson scored in transition once more and Ty Hussey’slaser made it 15-8 with 10:22 to go to push the lead right back to seven.

Michigan got back-to-back goals from Jon Morgan and Ryan Cohen to trim it to 15-10 with 7:40 to go.

Denver’s defense once again ratcheted up the pressure and Sillstrop scored into an empty net with 3:07 left to push it back to six with 3:07 left.

Justin Tiernan got Michigan’s last goal before the Pioneers ran out the shot clock a few possessions in a row to leave their final home game of the season with a 16-11 victory.

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