After losing a one-goal heartbreaker in DU coach Bill Tierney’s emotional return to Princeton University last Tuesday, the #9-ranked Denver Pioneers desperately wanted to get head coach Bill Tierney his 400th win as a head coach on Saturday, March 30th.
Georgetown, the 19th ranked team in the nation and a team that beat DU 8-3 in last year’s Big East Tournament, was the big obstacle in front of Denver.
But the Pioneers left no doubts, exploding for a season-high 10 first-half goals and cruised to a 16-9 victory over Georgetown for the Pioneers’ most complete win of the season.
The win also guaranteed the 400th career victory in the 35-year head coaching career of coach Bill Tierney. Tierney now joins his good friend, Duke Head Coach John Danowski, as the only two men in the history of Division One lacrosse to reach that 400 coaching win milestone.
The Pioneers (6-3) took the field in charged-up state of mind on this cold and snowy Barton Stadium morning, hooting and hollering more than usual in the warm-up – and that emotional advantage, coupled with a solid game plan on both sides of the ball, led to a 16-goal offensive output against a ranked team. This was the kind of potent offense DU fans were waiting for this season for a very solid opening win in Big East Conference play.
“Coming out of that game [last Tuesday] at Princeton, we were down-and-out,” said Coach Tierney after the win. “But the guys responded to coaching really well [this week] and the [assistant coaches} coaches put together a great game plan, and the [DU] players played extremely well today…When you lose a game [at Princeton] that you feel you could have won…you gotta get the next one – you’re so desperate…I’m proud of the guys today.”
The Pioneers responded to the desperation with crisp offensive execution, with very balanced scoring on the day, with five different Pioneers scoring multiple goals. Senior Austin French topped the DU scoresheet with a four-goal, two assist day, followed by hat tricks from Ethan Walker (3g 2a) and Colton Jackson (3g, 1a), and supplemented by two-goal performances by Teddy Sullivan and Jack Hanna. The Pioneers scoring machine was fed by a strong performance at the face-off X (Brett Boos went 17-26 on the day), a confident clearing effort (16-18) and good ball control, giving up only eight turnovers. DU led 10-5 at the half and never looked back.
“[DU Associate Head Coach] Matt Brown had a good game plan and the [team] followed it.” said Tierney. “We only only had one turnover in the first half…and the [Georgetown] goalie was playing well. We said to the guys in the locker room ‘Keep shooting. Don’t be afraid to shoot, don’t let your hands get too tight, just keep shooting’ and they [goals] will eventually fall – [we] got a bunch of shots and they did [fall] .”
Indeed, Georgetown goalie Owen McElroy was heroic for the Hoyas in the net, making 16 saves in a losing effort.
Denver also played solid defense on the day, holding a strong Georgetown offense, averaging 13+ goals per game to only nine goals. DU’s star close defenseman Dylan Gaines had an excellent outing, containing Georgetown’s star attackman, Senior Daniel Buccaro, to only two goals in the game, while DU goalie Alex Ready chipped in with 12 saves to get the Pioneer victory.
DU will play #20th ranked Villanova Wildcats next Saturday at 3:30 pm MT in the second Big East game for the Pioneers.
Our thanks to Jason Evans for his photo and interview of Coach Tierney after the game.