Athletics & Recreation

Men’s lacrosse is now Bill Tierney’s team

It took just a few days for legendary coach Bill Tierney to put his stamp on the University of Denver men’s lacrosse program.

Tierney owned six national championships with Princeton before he arrived at DU in 2009, and in his first season with the Pioneers, Tierney led his new team to the NCAA tournament. His second campaign was even more remarkable, as the Pioneers made their first appearance in the Final Four.

Yet this year, even with three NCAA tourney appearances in three seasons already under their belt, the Pioneers finally are entirely Tierney’s team. With his first crop of freshmen now leading the club as seniors, Tierney’s Pioneers have another run at a Final Four appearance well within their sights.

“We’ve got all our guys that have played for nobody else,” Tierney says. “Now what you’re going to see is what we’re going to be. We’ll be a team that loses some good players and brings in good players. We’re going to be a team that plays against the best teams in the country in the regular season and has high expectations for winning league championships and being in the tournament.

“If some years we exceed that, then great,” Tierney continues. “If we’ve underperformed, then that’s on me. But people know now what to expect. They expect us to be a top-10 team. They expect us to be fighting for championships. And they expect us to put a good group of players on the field. We’re going to do that.”

Mark Matthews (BA ’12), the most prominent of the players Tierney inherited, is gone, leaving a huge vacancy in the Pioneers’ attack. The loss of Matthews, who left the program as DU’s all-time leader in points and goals, would be devastating for most teams. However, the Pioneers do not expect to miss a beat this season.

Midfielder Cameron Flint and attacker Eric Law are the leaders of DU’s senior class, with Law expected to fill much of the offensive void left behind by Matthews’ graduation. The Pioneers also expect to boast perhaps the best pair of goalies in the nation in junior Jamie Faus and sophomore Ryan LaPlante, who turned in a stellar freshman campaign last year after Faus was sidelined with a torn Achilles tendon.

“It’s funny now, and I’m not a big rankings guy, but it’s funny to see us ranked [high],” Tierney says. “Not so much for where we are, but that some of the programs I wanted to live up to are below us. The first year was a new beginning, the second year we couldn’t have asked for anything better, the third year I don’t look at as a disappointment, but your expectations start to get high. We’ve been talking about a new beginning. It’s the post-Mark Matthews era.”


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