When: Saturday, April 26, 2014, at 1pm Central
Where: Peter Barton Stadium in Denver, Colorado
Audio/Visual: There's live video and audio, but it'll cost you $9 for a month of Denver athletics. If you're in the Denver area, check Altitude TV or 102.3 FM. Live stats will be over here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax
At the beginning of the season, it looked like the final game of the regular season involving Big East teams would be a massive mismatch between two teams beginning their first seasons as members of the conference. It paired Denver, the preseason league favorite and #4 team in the country, against Marquette, the second year program and preseason choice to finish last in the Big East.
Instead, the team that comes out victorious in the Rocky Mountains will earn the top seed in the Big East conference tournament, which starts next Thursday. It's a testament to both Denver's Bill Tierney and Marquette's Joe Amplo that they've guided their programs to the kind of season that they've both experienced.
Following a loss to Penn on March 1, the Pioneers were 3-2 and dipped as low as #12 in the country. Since then, Denver has ripped off eight straight wins, including two against top 10 ranked teams, and all five of their Big East games. Marquette has gone 4-3 since opening up the season 2-5, and you could make a very strong case that Marquette's 10-7 loss to Bellarmine is directly responsible for the Golden Eagles going 3-1 since then, with the loss being a hard fought game against #8 Notre Dame.
Marquette comes in 4-1 in league play, while Denver is 5-0. A Marquette win will give both teams a share of the Big East regular season title and the #1 seed in the tournament to the Golden Eagles via the head-to-head tiebreaker. A Denver victory makes the Pios the undefeated regular season league champs and obvious #1 seed. Marquette's seeding fate would then be determined by Saturday's Villanova-Providence game, but the Golden Eagles would be playing the Wildcats in the semifinals either way.
Denver's attack is led by Wes Berg and Jack Bobzien, both of whom have 46 points on the season. Both men get their points in comparable fashion with Berg tallying 31 goals and 15 assists and Bobzien recording 30 goals and 16 assists. It's a deep attack for the Pioneers with six players recording at least 25 points on the season.
Everyone does their part on defense, too. Discounting top faceoff man Chris Hampton (46.9% on FO), 10 different players have at least 16 ground balls on the season. Midfielder Jeremy Noble is the most dangerous man across the field, posting 11 goals, 24 assists, 36 ground balls and a team high 16 caused turnovers.
Ryan LaPlante will likely be the starting goalie for the Pios, because he's started their last 11 games. Jamie Faus started the first two games of the season for Denver, but LaPlante took over in the fourth quarter in their opener, and took the second half in their second game of the year. From that point on, LaPlante has started every game, but he's given way to Faus at halftime every single time. I presume this is just Tierney being fair to Faus, as he's a senior and LaPlante is only a junior. In the last outing for Denver, LaPlante allowed five first half goals and made six saves against Providence, while Faus allowed just one goal and made three saves. It's worth noting that the Pioneers' defense allowed just eight shots in the second half after surrendering 14 shots in the first half.