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DU's Zach Miller Ready to Take on Notre Dame

Denver University's Zach Miller, an attackman on the school's lacrosse team, grew up playing on the international stage with the Iroquois Nationals.

Like most children of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Zach Miller (Seneca) grew up with a hickory lacrosse stick in his hand. The Denver University sophomore attack also grew up playing on the international stage with the Iroquois Nationals.

Miller, an Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-American, was on the Iroquois Nationals U19 team that won a bronze medal in Finland in 2012. He was also a part of Iroquois Nationals history last summer when the men won a bronze medal at the World Field Lacrosse Championships in Denver.

Let’s just say he won’t be intimidated when his Denver Pioneers take on No. 1 Notre Dame in the NCAA semifinals on Saturday in Philadelphia (1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2). A lifetime of experience has prepared him for this NCAA Championship Weekend. “Playing with the Iroquois Nationals is great. To be able to play against the best competition in the world at that age level (U19) was a lot of fun, and really helped because the game was faster. It helped me develop the confidence that I have now, knowing that I can play at that level,” Miller told ICTMN. “It’s the same thing playing last summer with the Iroquois men. The pace of the game and how much stronger the guys were made me better and added to my confidence level."

Friends and family from the Allegany Reservation in western New York are pouring into Philadelphia to support Miller, who was a big part of the Denver’s 15-13 win over Ohio State in the quarterfinals last weekend. The Pioneers overcame a seven goal-deficit to beat the Buckeyes. Miller scored his 23rd goal of the season, and added three assists to the cause. “We learned a lot of about ourselves and our never-give-up attitude. I learned about our team and how we can fight back,” Miller said. “If we can play the full 60 minutes like we did in the comeback, then we have a good chance of winning the national championship.

Back in March, Miller was the trigger man in the Pioneers 11-10 victory over Notre Dame back, tying the game with 1:19 remaining in regulation, and pounding home the game-winner with 3:18 to go in overtime. He had four goals and two assists for a team-high six points. 

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One of the reasons Miller came west to play his college lacrosse was to forge his own path. Now he’s a part of the culture turning a NCAA hockey powerhouse school into one with a lacrosse dynasty as well. “One of the reasons I chose to come to Denver is because it was a new program on the rise,” said Miller, who is playing in his second NCAA Championship weekend in as many years. “I wanted to help build the program, and I believe we have the best coaching staff in the country. I really enjoy Denver, the school, and the atmosphere surrounding the team. I didn’t want to join a traditional Syracuse team. I wanted come to a different school, and hopefully inspire Native Americans to go to college and keep on playing the Creator’s Game.

He’s working on making this one of the most memorable of Memorial Day Weekends. If the fourth-seeded Pioneers beat No. 1 Notre Dame, they will face the winner of the No. 6 Maryland-Johns Hopkins on Monday (1 p.m. Eastern ESPN2) for the national championship.