Pioneers record first shutout in their Division-I history
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Pioneers claim fifth conference title in the last six seasons
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Here's a Q & A session with Coach Tierney
USATSI photos of Denver vs. Maryland men's lacrosse national championship on May 25, 2015
One of collegiate lacrosse's legendary coaches, 2015 USILA Division I National Coach of the Year Bill Tierney captured his NCAA-record seventh National Championship in 2015, becoming the first coach to win National Championships in charge of two different programs while leading the University of Denver to the program's first national title in just his sixth year in charge of the Pioneers.
Tierney took over the reins of the University of Denver men's lacrosse program in July 2009 after serving as the head coach at Princeton since the 1988 season. In his eight seasons at DU, Tierney has amassed an impressive 109-32 overall record and an even more impressive 43-4 conference mark.
The Pioneers have reached Championship Weekend five times in the last seven seasons, including the 2015 National Champion Pioneers, the first program to sit atop the national plateau from a state not sharing a boarder with the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Sitting at 4-2 through its first six games, Denver ended the 2015 campaign on a 13-game winning streak to win the title. The Pioneers will not only enter the 2016 campaign with a 13-game winning-streak, but a 16-game winning streak at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium, the longest such active streak in the nation.
For the second-consecutive season, the Pioneers finished BIG EAST play perfect, this time with a 5-0 record in the conference before sweeping the BIG EAST Tournament in Villanova. Tierney coached his first Tewaaraton finalist in 2015 in Wesley Berg, who was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and broke Denver's career points and goals records on April 11 against St. John's.
In his first season at DU, Tierney surprised many by guiding the Pioneers to a 12-5 overall record, a record-setting nine-game winning streak and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. After helping the Pioneers to a perfect 7-0 mark in the Eastern College Athletic Conference and winning the ECAC Championship, Tierney was chosen as the league's Coach of the Year.
In his second season at the helm, Tierney didn't waste any time taking the program to even greater heights. The Pioneers finished the season with their best record in program history (15-3) and remained undefeated in conference action (6-0). Tierney led the Pioneers to their second-straight ECAC Regular Season Title and helped to guide them to the first-ever ECAC Tournament Championship.
Tierney didn't stop there. In addition in 2011, he helped Denver secure its first NCAA Tournament victory with a 13-10 win over Villanova in the first-ever NCAA Tournament game west of the Mississippi River. The Pioneers' success under Tierney continued as they topped Johns Hopkins 14-9 in the quarterfinals to earn a trip to the Final Four.
Although the Pioneers dropped a 14-8 decision to eventual NCAA Champion Virginia, Denver still had reason to celebrate. The team finished the season with its highest-ever ranking of No. 4 in the nation according to the last Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. Denver also finished second in the nation in with an 83.3 winning percentage and fourth in the nation in scoring offense (12.44), scoring margin (3.78) and assists per game (6.83).
To be the best, one must beat the best and in his third season as head coach Tierney planned to prepare his team by putting together the second-most difficult schedule in the country, which included three 2012 Final Four teams (Loyola (Md.), Duke, Notre Dame). Tierney led DU to a 9-7 overall record in 2012, ending the season to top-seeded Loyola in the NCAA Quarterfinals after falling one-goal short of a return trip to the Final Four.
With his first freshman class becoming seniors, Tierney and his coaching staff took the Pioneers' to new heights once again in his fourth season. After starting the year with astunning 14-12 come-from-behind win over the No. 6 Duke, the Pioneers embarked on a memorable and historical season that included their first No. 1 national ranking and a thrilling roller coaster ride to their second semifinal appearance in three seasons in the NCAA Tournament. Despite falling to Syracuse in the semifinals, coach Tierney and the Pioneers put together a 14-5 overall record, a 6-1 mark in league action and secured their third ECAC Regular Season Title.
The 2014 campaign saw Denver finish 16-3, and a perfect 6-0 in the program's first season in the BIG EAST. Tierney and the Pioneers won both the BIG EAST Regular Season and the BIG EAST Tournament titles in 2014. After a 3-2 start, the Pioneers reeled off 13-straight games, including NCAA Tournament wins over No. 9 North Carolina (9-5) and No. 12 Drexel (15-6).
Tierney's impact on the student-athletes at Denver has resulted in eight USILA First Team All-Americans (program's first eight), nine USILA Second Team All-Americans, three USILA Third Team All-Americans, 16 USILA All-America Honorable Mention selections, nine USILA Scholar All-Americans, one ECAC Offensive Player of the Year, three BIG EAST Attackmen of the Year, four BIG EAST Midfielders of the Year, two ECAC Rookie of the Year award winners, one ECAC Defensive Player of the Year, one BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and Specialist of the Year, two BIG EAST Goalkeepers of the Year, 38 all-conference first team selections and 18 all-conference second team selections.
Tierney was also named the ECAC Coach of the Year twice. Prior to the start of the season, Tierney was honored as US Lacrosse Magazine's Person of the Year for 2009.
In his 33 years of coaching, Tierney has amassed a resume that includes seven NCAA Championships, nine NCAA Final appearances, 15 Championship Weekend appearances, 22 quarterfinal appearances, 14 Ivy League Championships, two ECAC Championships, two BIG EAST Championships, three ECAC Regular Season titles and four BIG EAST Regular Season titles. He compiled a career record of 238-86 at Princeton and has a career collegiate record of 381-125 for an impressive .753 winning percentage.
THE PRINCETON YEARS
In the 20 years prior to his arrival, Princeton did not win an Ivy League championship, did not play in an NCAA tournament and did not have a first-team All-American. His impact on the student-athletes at Princeton has resulted in 26 first-team All-Americans, 73 first team All-Ivy League selections, seven Ivy League Players of the Year, six Ivy League Rookies of the Year and over 20 USILA Scholar All-Americas. He has recruited and coached two winners of the Lt. Raymond J. Enners Award as the national player of the year (David Morrow in 1993 and Scott Bacigalupo in 1994).
Tierney's ability to win close games in the NCAA tournament is legendary. He is 41-17 all-time in NCAA Division I Tournament games, including 16-5 in one-goal NCAA games. Four of his seven NCAA championship game wins have been in overtime. Princeton was 12-46 in the four years prior to Tierney's arrival, and his first team, in 1988, went 2-13. His first recruiting class, the Class of 1992, arrived the following fall.
The 1989 season saw Princeton improve to 6-8, and the Tigers broke through in 1990, reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time ever and defeating Johns Hopkins before losing to Yale in the quarterfinals. The 1991 season ended in heartbreaking style, as the Tigers lost 14-13 to Towson in the quarterfinals in three overtimes.
Princeton defeated Syracuse 10-9 in double overtime to win the 1992 national title, and the Tigers gave Tierney his second championship on Memorial Day 1994 with a 9-8 overtime win over Virginia. The Tigers again defeated Virginia in overtime in 1996 and then tied the largest victory margin in the championship game in 1997's 19-7 win over Maryland. Title No. 5 was a 15-5 win over Maryland in 1998. Tierney then led Princeton to the NCAA championship game each year from 2000 to 2002, each time against Syracuse, including title No. 6 with a 10-9 overtime win in 2001.
THE EARLY YEARS
After helping Cortland State to the USILA college division championship as a senior in 1973, Tierney began his head coaching career at Great Neck South High on Long Island in 1976. He moved to Levittown High in 1980, and he went from there to his first college stop, Rochester Institute of Technology. Tierney won 10, 12 and 15 games at RIT, taking the school to its first two NCAA tournaments in 1983 and 1984. His next stop was Baltimore, where he served as an assistant at Johns Hopkins for three years. Tierney helped Hopkins to the national title in 1985 and 1987 and the national semifinals in 1986. He also coached the Blue Jay's men's soccer team, guiding the team to the 1986 NCAA Division III tournament for its first NCAA bid in 11 years.
HONORS AND AWARDS
Tierney won the Morris Touchstone Award as the Division I Coach of the Year in 1992 while at Princeton and in 2015 at Denver. He also was named the 1983 Division III Coach of the Year while at RIT, and he earned Nassau County Coach of the Year honors at both high schools. He was elected to the Long Island Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1995 and the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2009, Tierney was named US Lacrosse Magazine's Person of the Year and then followed that with back-to-back ECAC Coach of the Year honors.
Tierney has recruited and coached two winners of the Lt. Raymond J. Enners Award as the national player of the year (David Morrow in 1993 and Scott Bacigalupo in 1994). Outside of his collegiate coaching honors, Tierney has coached the United States to the World Championship in 1998, and was inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame as part of the 2002 class.
Tierney had the new U.S. Headquarters training field in Sparks, Md., named after him on June 1, 2015.
THE TIERNEY FAMILY
Tierney and his wife Helen have four children. Trevor Tierney was a first-team All-America and the national goalie of the year before graduating from Princeton in 2001 with two NCAA championship rings. He won championships with the U.S. team at the 2002 World Championships and with the Baltimore Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse, and he was also a member of the 2006 U.S. National Team.
Brendan Tierney, who graduated in 2002, was an attackman/middie for the Tigers who scored the game-winning goal in Princeton's 12-11 win over Virginia in the 2000 NCAA semifinals. He earned an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke and now works for Nike in Portland. Courtney Tierney played basketball at Franklin & Marshall and now is the head girls' basketball coach at Pingry School in Central New Jersey. Brianne Tierney, who played lacrosse at Colgate, joined the Pioneers' staff in August of 2012 as the Director of Lacrosse Operations and served as the head women's lacrosse coach and assistant field hockey coach for two seasons at Cherry Creek High School. Brianne is now the head women's lacrosse coach at Kent State.