Denver shuts out Canisius in Bill Tierney’s 100th Denver victory

Photo courtesy DU Athletics

They had to make it special right? 100 career victories with a program is an important mark for a coach of any program and today, #1 University of Denver head coach Bill Tierney eclipsed that mark for the second time in his career with a 12-0 win over the Canisius College Golden Griffins.

Yes, you read that correctly. Denver did shut out Canisius at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium this afternoon, a day after topping Cleveland State 19-6. Not only was the victory Tierney’s 100th at the helm of the DU men’s lacrosse program, he is the only coach to reach 100 career victories in his first 140 games with two different programs. He accomplished the feat with Princeton.

“I’m blessed,” Tierney said. “I’m blessed to have been at Princeton and I’m blessed to be here at Denver and hopefully there’s another 100 left in me. But when you reach those kind of milestones, it really makes you think of all the great kids who played for you. It’s special and a lot of people are a part of that.”

Today’s victory was marked by stout defense and methodical offensive destruction. It wasn’t the offensive outburst that Denver fans have been accustomed to seeing this year, but DU took a measured approach on offense to find and exploit the weaknesses in Canisius’ defense.

“I thought the defense was fabulous again,” Tierney said. “We talk a lot about Coach Brown and the offense, Coach Orson is a fabulous coach. We did five days of scouting and preparation work after breakfast this morning. I thought everybody played really well.”

Through the first quarter, Denver only managed to score once, but as it turned out, Connor Flynn’s was the only goal they’d need all day. Eight other scorers added 11 more goals over the remainder of the game for good measure.

Trevor Baptiste was named the Faceoff Classic MVP as he went 11-for-14 at the X today. He didn’t manage to score a goal, but he was a difference maker against Canisius. One of the key reasons the Pioneers were able to keep the Griffins off the scoreboard was their possession dominance. Possession starts at the X and Baptiste made all the difference today.

Not everything was perfect, though. Denver only went 3-for-9 on their extra man opportunities. Poor man-up efficiency has never been a hallmark of Bill Tierney and Matt Brown coached teams. Canisius kept giving Denver chances to score with the extra man, but Denver just couldn’t convert.

“We were 3-for-9 statistically, but it was a little bit askew,” Tierney said of his man up offense. “We scored one at the end with our second guys and one on a 5 on 4. But we need to improve on our special teams, there’s no question about that.”

However, with defending champion North Carolina coming in next weekend, this was a very encouraging performance on both sides of the ball. Denver dominated both Cleveland State and Canisius like they were supposed to. Now, with North Carolina and Notre Dame next on the schedule, the tuneups are over and we’re about to find out just how good Denver really is.

“We know how [UNC] feels,” Tierney said. “Last year, coming in, you’re the defending national champs, everybody wants a piece of you, everybody wants to give you their best shot. They’re a good team. It looks like they had a little trouble scoring against Hopkins, but I know they’re going to come and they’re going to bring their best.”

Of note, Connor Cannizzaro left the game early with an apparent head injury. Tierney said after the game that he was cleared by team doctors to return to the game, but the kept him out as a precaution. He should be back for UNC next weekend.

7 thoughts on “Denver shuts out Canisius in Bill Tierney’s 100th Denver victory”

  1. Question for the lacrosse folks:. is it common for a nobody team that ends up not scoring a single goal, to give shit from the sidelines to the team that is dominating them? Would it be the responsibility of the coach of that nobody team, to tell his players on the sideline not to perpetuate a douchebag lacrosse player stereotype? Or is being a douchebag an East coast thing? (I assume canisius is east coast.)


  2. Good win on 24 hours rest, and a real feather in the cap of the defense to post the Pios’ first ever D-I shootout, and the first one overall in 46 years!

    Now the Pio season begins for real – no more cupcakes. Carolina and Notre Dame now coming into Barton over the next couple of weeks is a pair of epic games, and then the Pios hit the road to OSU and a revenge game at Towson to close out non-league play.

    The DU coaches now know what they have, and what they need to work on. They have good confidence and leadership, the best face-off man in the country, a versatile offense that has lots of depth, a much-improved defense, average special teams, and decent goaltending. The Pios need to be more dangerous on man-up – they miss Bomberry and Miller there. I would imagine that it should be a bit smoother once Tyler Pace returns to the lineup – hopefully soon.

    All in all, 4-0 and ranked #1 is a great start.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Douchebaggery happens, and it must start with the Canisius head coach. Frustrated or not, players who are guests (especially of the best team in the country) should show more class. This probably happens in football, too. But I can’t think of any other sport where coaches let kids act like that. Tierney goes overboard, of course. But his players show great sportsmanship.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My assessment after 4 games: With our current line-up, we are not true NC contenders. We have very good middies who can all shoot and pass fairly well; the operative words being “fairly well”. No go-to player at middie now or anyone to initiate the offense. If Pace returns, (I predict he returns on Saturday versus UNC) the initiator liability goes away immediately. and we become the team to beat. We will get easier shot attempts. If no Pace, I think we are vastly overrated. We were ranked pre-season #1 and have stayed there with a 4-0 start. Those rankings assumed we would have Pace and Miller playing. Missing 2 first team all-Americans makes all the difference in the world.


    1. Dunker, this is the best defense DU has ever had under Tierney. They MORE than make up for a little decline in scoring. You’re right they miss a dominant presence at midfield, but I’ve been extremely impressed with what I’ve seen from guys like Nick Phillips. I think this is still the team to beat and Pace will only add to that. Keep in mind that in the second half of both games this weekend, you saw a lot of backups playing, so I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into that. Look at the Duke game more than any others. Denver looked DOMINANT when it had to. Of course, the true tests come over the next two weeks, but to claim that they’re not national contenders this early is a more than a bit premature.


  5. I don’t know lacrosse as well as I know hockey, but it seems to me it’s a bit early to think DU won’t be a NC contender. The Pios handled Duke and Air Force as both ranked teams, and demolished the two unranked teams they faced, one by 12 goals (could have been far more if DU didn’t play the reserves) and the other by shutout.

    Pios are averaging 45 shots a game, up from 35 per game last year, and hitting 58% this year, compared to 64% last year, so it’s pretty much a statistical wash, as the Pios are averaging 14.75 goals this year to 13.75 last year. Granted, the DU’s competition so far this year does not reflect the better competition to come on the schedule, but the good news is that DU’s defense is letting in only 5.75 GPG compared to 9.12 last year, which if that holds up, will keep DU in every game they play.

    Big concern right now is the DUman-up at only 33% this year compared to 52% last year. We miss Pace, Miller and Bomberry there in a big way.

    As for initiation, Jackson is a good dodger and penetrator, but there is a drop off after that. Flynn, Reid, and Bosher are doing what they can to plug the hole, but you are right that taking out AAs like Pace and Miller is bound to have a serious effect….Go Pios!


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