Category Archives: Men’s Sports

Bill Tierney still “finding a way” to Pioneer lacrosse out west

Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

A decade ago, Bill Tierney left a comfortable dynasty and headed west to establish a western lacrosse presence in Denver with two objectives; to create a western lacrosse mecca capable of regularly contending for a national title and to continue advancing the growth of the sport. Nine-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, five Final Fours and one national championship later, Coach Tierney and the Pioneers have established themselves for the long run as the Lacrosse Capital of the West. While Tierney and Denver aim to again hoist the national championship title trophy this Spring, the 66-year old lacrosse maven continues his tandem goal of growing the sport. Continue reading Bill Tierney still “finding a way” to Pioneer lacrosse out west

Pioneers Squeeze-Out Road Split With Minnesota-Duluth Behind Cooley’s 1-0 Shutout

UMD  forward Nick Swaney (23) of Minnesota Duluth controls the puck near defenseman Ian Mitchell (15) of Denver during Friday’s game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. — Clint Austin /Duluth News

DULUTH, Minn. — DU Goaltender Devin Cooley returned to the Denver lineup after missing 10 games for an injury, just in time to turn away all 27 shots he faced from the fourth-ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs for a 1-0 shutout in Saturday’s second game of the two-game NCHC series, before over 6,400 fans at Amsoil Arena.

The No. #7 Pioneers were able to get just 16 shots on goal in the game, but were able to ride a single first-period goal from Slava Demin and held on to salvage an important split in a hostile road environment.

The Saturday night DU win over UMD avenged a 5-2 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday night, when DU was badly outplayed in the third period.

With the road victory, the Pioneers vaulted into fourth place in the National Pairwise ranking system, which mimics the process used to select teams for the NCAA tournament next month, and also moved the Pioneers into fourth place in the NCHC standings.

“I’m really proud of our guys’ effort and their resilience to be able to stick together and gut out a tough road win,” said DU Coach David Carle said after the game. “It hasn’t been easy as of late. We’ve been in a lot of wars and a lot of low scoring games. We haven’t had success on the road and to be able to come into this building is a feather in our cap.”

The Pioneers lone marker of the game came at the 8:04 mark of the first period, when DU’s Emilio Peterson passed the puck to Slava Demin, who launched a 50-foot point shot through traffic to beat UMD net minder Hunter Shepard for Demin’s fourth goal of the season.

The Pioneers then survived a furious Minnesota-Duluth comeback when the Bulldogs outshot Denver 13-2 in the third period, but Cooley remained steadfast for his third shutout of the season as the Pioneers won only their second road conference game of the season. Cooley’s shutout was his second over UMD this season, with the first one coming back in November at Magness Arena in Denver.

The Pioneers (16-7-4, 8-7-2-2) will face Miami (Ohio) next weekend in a two game series at Magness Arena.

 

 

 

Denver Hockey Series Preview: Minnesota-Duluth

The No. 7 Denver Pioneers travel to Minnesota this weekend to face defending national champion Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

Much like when a team wins the Stanley Cup in the NHL, the following season that team gets the best from every team they play on their schedule.  But for the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, they have been giving their best right back.  After an astonishing run to the Frozen Four after squeaking into the tournament, Duluth was favored to win the national championship this year.  They returned several key players and have been impressive yet again.  The Denver Pioneers are one of the few teams who have brought the Bulldogs down to earth, but not without earning every inch of ice.  This weekend will be no different in their barn.

Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: Minnesota-Duluth

Denver vs Duke: February Foreshadowing

Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

It’s hard to imagine that just the second game of the season could present any long-term implications, but men’s lacrosse is unique in that particular way. With a regular season slate of just 13 to 15 games, the top ten clash between the #5 Denver Pioneers and the #8 Duke Blue Devils this Saturday is a taste of May competition in February. The result and individual performances become a baseline for later reflection. Continue reading Denver vs Duke: February Foreshadowing

Freshmen steal show in Pioneers’ dominant season opening win over Air Force

Photo credit: Jason Evans

DENVER – From the opening faceoff to the final buzzer, the #8 Denver Pioneers’ highly-touted freshman class showed the lacrosse world why the Pios are going to be a force to be reckoned with in a dominant 11-4 victory over in-state rival Air Force. Freshmen Ellis Geis and FOGO Brett Boos were the stars of the Pioneers’ show this afternoon against the Falcons. Geis tallied a hat trick while Boos went 15/19 at the X in their respective collegiate debuts at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

For a team with two very large question marks looming over their heads in how will Denver replace the greatest faceoff specialist in the history of the sport and how will the Pioneers adjust to the new 80-second shot clock, this was about as great a start to the 2019 season as Denver could have asked for. It was by no means perfect as the Pios turned the ball over 15 times and struggled to clear in the second half but overall, Denver played the way they expected to and may have exceeded some expectations in some key areas. Continue reading Freshmen steal show in Pioneers’ dominant season opening win over Air Force

Colorado’s finest: Denver & Air Force set to open 2019 season at Peter Barton

Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

The growth of lacrosse out west has cultivated a unique rivalry between the No. 8 Denver Pioneers and Air Force Falcons. Separated by an hour-bus ride, Colorado’s only Division l men’s programs have embraced a matchup that has seen everything from blizzardous conditions, NCAA tournament action, to one-goal games. It’s only fitting that both teams open their respective 2019 campaigns with an in-state showdown.   Continue reading Colorado’s finest: Denver & Air Force set to open 2019 season at Peter Barton

Pioneers clip Fighting Hawks’ wings to take physical game one, end short losing streak

Photo courtesy Shannon Valerio/Denver Athletics

Even in a down year for one of the programs, any time the #7 Denver Pioneers and North Dakota Fighting Hawks take the ice, sparks and oftentimes fists fly. Friday night’s affair at Magness Arena was no different as the Pioneers withstood a physical assault from the Hawks and rode a superb goaltending performance by freshman Filip Larsson to take game one of this important rivalry series 2-1. Continue reading Pioneers clip Fighting Hawks’ wings to take physical game one, end short losing streak

2019 Denver Men’s Lacrosse Season Preview

Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

One decade ago, Bill Tierney left the dynasty of a lacrosse program he had established at Princeton University to take over the helm for the University of Denver Pioneers. Among his ambitions of growing the sport, he was determined to create a powerhouse program out west.

Now, four years removed from Denver’s sole national title [2015], the Pioneers enter this season eager for their second ring. But after missing Championship Weekend last season at the hands of Albany in an epic 15-13 battle, the general consensus was that the Pioneers would enter this season with a vengeful mentality.

“In one way I kind of go, ‘Whoa, was it that bad?’ But in another, I kind of smile,” Tierney said.  “When your program is expected to be in Final Fours and they don’t, it’s looked upon as not a great season. I get that, that’s what I want. We’re all in with that. We use that as motivation.’

“The good thing about losing is it makes you want to win a lot more.”

And do they ever. The 2018 class were the final members of that 2015 title squad. The current 14-man senior class has endured their entire careers in pursuit of that second title. The 14 true seniors look to lead the fresh faces of a 19-man freshmen class back to Championship Weekend come May.

“Usually a strong senior class and a large freshmen class is a good combination,” coach Tierney said. “As long as you can get the freshmen that will crack the lineup to contribute.”

Alex Ready (#16) passing to Dylan Johnson (#28) – photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

Dominant Defense

Denver returns veteran leadership across the field but is exceptionally evident within its defensive core. The Pioneers defense will field seniors Alex Ready in goal and defensemen Dylan Gaines, Dylan Johnson and junior Colin Squires.

“It’s huge,” defensive coordinator John Orsen said. “They have a lot of experience. They’ve been through every single lacrosse situation that you could possibly imagine. There’s not a scenario that they haven’t seen and that’s really important for the development of the whole team.”

Ready will receive the starting nod, but the jury remains out. Behind the senior netminder are four viable candidates among; Josh Matte, Tristan Wright, Cole French, and Kaleb Stroman.

“The beauty for him and I think the beauty for us that coincides is, that he’s got four guys pushing him and I mean really pushing him,” coach Tierney said. “We’re really comfortable with any one of the five of them. I think we owe it to Alex and I think he’ll respond with it being his senior year. He’s won a lot of great lacrosse games for us. We’ll give him the shot to win us some more.”

Matt Neufeldt – photo courtesy of the Diamondback

A Terp in the mix

The Pioneers gained a vital addition at the long pole position in Maryland transfer Matt Neufeldt which was vacated by 2018 graduate Sean Mayle. Neufeldt opted to use his final year of eligibility with DU after being named an All-American and winning a national title (2017) with the Terps.

“Neufeldt brings us another guy who has an amazing lacrosse savvy and IQ,” Tierney said. “We’re not going to try and change Matt into being a Denver Pioneer through-and-through. He’s got three months left, you know? But what we are going to do is use the things he brings to us. Knowing that Denver’s defense and Maryland’s defense aren’t that far off from each other. Knowing that he’s played in big games. We’ll try to indoctrinate him as best we can to how we play but also let the reins loose a bit with him.”

Tierney challenged Neufeldt to collect 50 ground balls this season, a feat that the Naperville, Illinois native already surpassed in each of his three prior seasons at Maryland. The significance of that challenge?

The X without Trevor Baptiste

The era of No. 9 dominating the faceoff for the Crimson and Gold is over. While Denver will likely rely on freshmen Brett Boos and Jackson Harvey to manage the X, the Pioneers are confident in their wing play. Hence the proposition for Neufeldt to pick up at least 50 ground balls.

“I have a sense that we’re actually a lot better than we thought we were,” coach Tierney said. I have a good feeling. I think Boos is going to surprise some people early on.”

Ethan Walker – photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

Offense

Denver’s high-powered offense will feature new faces but maintain a consistent core. The Pioneers return quintessential playmakers in Ethan Walker and Austin French at attack and potent midfield threats in Colton Jackson and Teddy Sullivan. Walker is coming off of a 70-point campaign where he was just shy of 50 goals (48). Jackson enters his final season healthy and looking to build off of his 22-goal junior year.  

“I like where we’re at,” offensive coordinator Matt Brown said. “We’re more mature as a group this year. I think the veteran piece of it is going to play a big part in our success.”

Junior captain Danny Logan has a dutiful, heavier weight on his shoulders this season. As a sophomore, the midfielder elevated his game to include an ambidextrous shot which he perfected during the offseason. The Pioneers relied heavily on Logan as a defensive middie and on the wing play and will continue to this year.

“I wish we had five of him,” coach Brown said. “He’s really our heartbeat this year. He’s a do-it-all, utility-knife type of guy. If you look at last year, we had him on the first line midfield to start the year. Then, we felt like we needed a little more on the defensive presence so we bump him down and he becomes the best d-middy in the country. We look at this year, he can do whatever you ask him to do. He can play on the wings. He can play on the first line. He could be a 20-goal scorer this year. He could be the best d-middie in the country. Heck, he could take faceoffs for you. He’s as tough as they come and he’s a fantastic leader.”

Brett Greenlee (#44) – photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

On the Lookout

  • Quinn McKone – the senior played cemented the Pioneers second midfield line last season and played crucial minutes. McKone provides consistency and will be assuming a much-earned leadership role with his steady presence. 
  • Brett Greenlee – While the senior LSM has limited game experience, Greenlee is versatile in his ability to play up or down. Coach Orsen noted he’s a player they’re expecting to distribute big minutes to. 
  • Jack Hannah – the sophomore midfielder spent the summer playing in coach Brown’s summer box lacrosse league in Ohio. Hannah impressed the coaching staff with his physical and technical development during the offseason as he looks to have a breakout year.

Rule Changes

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel implemented three changes that will take effect this season.

  • 80-second shot clock

An 80-second shot clock which forces players to cross the midfield line in 20-seconds. The offensive team will then have 60-seconds to make a play on the net before possession is turned over.

  • The Dive

The Panel approved plays around the crease, but the definition has drawn some question marks.

photo courtesy of NCAA lacrosse

“We haven’t used the word in our practices yet,” Tierney said. “We haven’t even talked about it. The risk versus the reward is something we haven’t quite figured out yet. The wording is so vague. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s implemented once we get some games going.”

Tierney explained that a better understanding of how the dive will be officiated once games are underway will determine their approach. He suspects the dive will be used more as a final effort to a winding shot clock.

  •  Reduced Substitution Box

“That’s been a huge awakening for us,” Tierney said. “Now it’s harder to cut off fast breaks. You used to be able to just run an attackman off 10-yards down from the midline on one side and then run a pole on the other side 10-yards down from the midline. You had 20-yards to cut off a break. Now, it’s down to 10-yards.”

Moving On

Even after nearly 40-years of coaching experience, last season provided coach Tierney with valuable insight and lessons. With the sport continually growing and changing, Tierney and his staff are excited for the challenges and rewards in the coming season.

“Look, if you can’t learn in life then why live it?” coach Tierney said. “You can always learn. What’s great about coaching and sports is that is a really easy occupation to be humbled in.”

Denver Hockey Series Preview: North Dakota

Photo courtesy of FightingHawks.com

No. 7 Denver will try to rebound this weekend when they host archrival, unranked North Dakota

It was a tough series for the Pioneers who lost both games against Western Michigan last weekend.  With goals scored by Liam Finlay and Emilio Pettersen, the Pioneers didn’t bring enough firepower to Kalamazoo to compete with the Broncos.  The Pioneers played from behind all weekend and couldn’t get going offensively early in the games.  Head coach David Carle described the series as “getting punched in the mouth,” something the Pioneers haven’t had much of this season.  But with more games on the schedule to be played, Denver will move forward and learn from the experience.

Continue reading Denver Hockey Series Preview: North Dakota