GRANVILLE—Denison's next opponent on the 2017 NCAA Division III Tournament trail is Illinois Wesleyan University on Saturday (May 13) at 7:30 p.m. The Titans defeated Aurora 19-15 on Wednesday and the Big Red is coming off a 17-9 win over Carthage in the second round.
Denison (16-1) senior attackman Liam Rooney scored one goal and had five assists against Carthage. He also became Denison's career leader in points, passing Andy John '84 who held the record with 256. Rooney has 261 points (114 goals and 147) entering Saturday's game. His 73 assists this season leads the nation. Rooney was featured on Wednesday on the website InsideLacrosse.com.
Another Denison player who is inching closer to a record is Will Donohue. The attackman has 57 goals which are the second-most in a single-season at Denison. John currently holds that record with 63 tallies in 1984.
This is the first-ever meeting between Illinois Wesleyan (16-3) and Denison in men's lacrosse. They share one common opponent this season in Ohio Wesleyan. The Titans defeated OWU, 19-18 on March 1 at Selby Stadium in Delaware, Ohio. Illinois Wesleyan's Michael Julius scored the game-winner with 17 seconds left in regulation. The Big Red handed Ohio Wesleyan two losses this season, winning 12-8 on April 16 and 16-8 on April 30 in the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship.
IWU boasts the nation's top-scoring offense at 19.95 goals per game. Julius is averaging 2.89 goals per game and 5.53 points per game.
This should also be an interesting matchup at the faceoff X. Denison's Henry DeCamp has been red-hot for the better part of the last month. He was named the NCAC Tournament MVP and went 21-of-26 with 14 ground balls against Carthage. DeCamp is winning 65 percent of faceoffs this season. His counterpart from IWU, J.C. Grabarek, ranks 11th in the nation with a .693 win percentage. He leads the nation in ground balls per game with 13.47.
On the flip side, Illinois is allowing 11.32 goals per game compared to just 6.47 for the Denison defense. Junior Ben Duhoski and senior Teddy Sawyer have made a strong case for All-American consideration. Duhoski is second on the team with 45 ground balls and Sawyer leads the team with 35 caused turnovers.
Denison first-year goalie Stephen Paras is 16-0 in 16 starts between the pipes. He boasts a .544 save percentage and the nation's second-best GAA at 6.06. He posted 10 saves in the NCAC title game against Ohio Wesleyan and had six stops against Carthage.
Titan goalie Steven Laduzinsky has started 18 of 19 games this season. He has a .476 save percentage and a GAA of 11.79. Laduzinsky has been kept busy of late. In his last four outings, he has averaged 13.5 saves highlighted by a 17 save performance against Elmhurst on May 3.
Denison is coached by Mike Caravana who is in his 24th season as the head coach of the Big Red. One of college lacrosse's winningest coaches, Caravana boasts a career record of 272-88 (.756). Illinois Wesleyan is coached by Zach Iannucci who is in his fourth season with the Titans. As the first coach in program history, he has led IWU to a record of 47-21. The 2017 season marks the first NCAA Tournament berth for the program. Denison is making their 22nd NCAA appearance and the 17th under Caravana.
Saturday's game will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Piper Stadium in Granville. Ticket prices are $6 for adults, $3 for students (ages 13-21) and $2 for children (ages 3-12). The first 100 Denison students, faculty or staff members with a valid ID will be admitted free of charge. The Denison Sports Network will offer a live video stream of the game beginning at 7:15 p.m.
The winner of the Denison-Illinois Wesleyan game will face the winner of Lynchburg-York contest on Wednesday (May 17) at a location and time TBD.