DENVER — Having top-tier lacrosse on the campus of DU -- that's nothing new.
The Pioneers last brought an NCAA national championship to Denver in 2015, and have made five Final Fours in the last decade.
"They always talk about how Peter Barton [Lacrosse Stadium] gets rockin' and stuff, and obviously it's not a huge venue, but it's really close and intimate, which is really cool," Denver graduate TD Ierlan said.
But the Premier Lacrosse League returned to the Mile High City for the first time since 2019, landing on the Denver campus for the first time ever, and has since picked up a few Pios in the process.
"It's nice to be familiar with it and it just brings back a lot of really great memories from my short time here," Ierlan said.
TD Ierlan only played one season with the Pios in 2021, after his Yale team canceled due to COVID-19. He played in nine games after transferring, going 86-118 (72.9%) from the faceoff dot, picking up 57 ground balls and tallying one assist. He quickly learned about the brotherhood he was joining.
"It's just one more team to be a part of and I see those guys out everywhere, whether it's guys that are still on the team or even guys I didn't play with, like Eric Law, I see him every week," Ierlan said. "It is cool, they really couldn't tell if I had been here for 10 years or 10 months."
Eight former Pios made the opening day rosters for the PLL, including the Redwoods rookie TD Ierlan. The Atlas team has the most Denver connections, highlighting Trevor Baptiste, Eric Law, and Danny Logan. Jackson Morrill flies solo on the Chrome. Jack Hannah joins Ethan Walker on the Waterdogs, while Colin Squires represents the Pios on the Whipsnakes.
The PLL is littered with Denver connections, even those born right here in the Centennial state. Asher Nolting wowed us back on the Prep Rally as a member of the Cherry Creek Bruins, and is now making his first professional appearance back home.
"It's definitely been circled on my calendar," Nolting said. "It's been awesome being home and being able to play where I watched DU play and the Outlaws play. It's awesome."
Nolting hopes his play in Peter Barton continues to inspire the growth of lacrosse in his home state.
"It's a super prideful thing to know that's how it is," he said. "Growing up, when I was young-young, that wasn't a big thing, but nowadays it is, so I'm glad the kids nowadays get to do that and it's awesome."
While a win at home would have be sweet, Nolting isn't shy about soaking in a moment.
"Just to be able to take this whole thing in, you only get to do this a couple of times in your career if you're lucky, so being able to come home and be with my family for a couple of days and play in front of friends and family, is going to be huge," he said. "Just don't let it pass me by too quickly."
Nolting's Cannons team fell to Ierlan's Redwoods 15-12 on Friday night. Nolting had three points, two goals and an assist in the loss. Ierlan led with 19-28 for 68% of faceoffs, and added an assist in the win.
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