No. 1 Denver Tops Cleveland State

No. 1 Denver Tops Cleveland State

DENVER, Colo. - The Cleveland State University lacrosse team had the lead for much of the first quarter, but the Vikings would open play in the Faceoff Classic Saturday afternoon by dropping a 19-6 decision at No. 1 Denver at a cool Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

The Vikings took an early 3-1 lead, but the tide of the game turned when Danny Tesler was no longer able to continue after he was the victim of a head targeting penalty committed by the Pioneers.

Without Tesler, who had scored a goal and won two of three faceoffs against All-American Trevor Baptiste in the early going, Cleveland State had trouble getting possession at the center dot for the remainder of the game, putting tremendous pressure on the Viking defense.

Caleb Espinoza was put in the unenviable position of facing shots on a frequent basis, but the rookie put forth a noteworthy effort. He made 19 stops between the pipes, the most by a goaltender in a Division I game this season, including two when his team was playing down a man.

Midfielders Noah Gleeson and Tommy Joyce both contributed a pair of goals for the Viking offense. It is the third straight multi-point game for Gleeson while it was the first of the season for Joyce.

Attack Jake Lewis tallied a goal and an assist against the Pioneers while Tristen Copeland added an assist, his team-leading 13th point of the season.

Denver would tied the game, 3-3, near the midpoint of the first quarter. The Vikings would pull ahead a few minutes later off a strike by Joyce, but Baptiste's prowess on faceoffs would prove too much to overcome. The Pioneers took a 5-4 lead after the first quarter with a pair of tallies in the final 90 seconds of the period.

After Denver took an 11-4 lead at intermission, Cleveland State scored two of the first three goals of the second half, but the guests would not get any closer.

The Vikings outperformed Denver in EMO situations, as Cleveland State went 2-for-3 with a man advantage while holding the Pioneers without a goal in two attempts.

Gage Johnson posted three ground balls and a caused turnover for Cleveland State.

Lewis has now scored in each of the first five games of the season and tallied multiple points in each contest as well. Gleeson has now posted back-to-back multi-goal games.

Cleveland State had fewer penalty minutes than its opponent for the fifth consecutive contest.

For the second straight weekend, the Vikings will play a second game within 24 hours of their first, as Cleveland State will face Air Force Sunday at Denver at 1:00 p.m. ET.