DU Men’s Lacrosse Hopes to Bounce Back After 2019 Postseason Snub
Pioneers open the 2020 season against Air Force
The 2019 season for the University of Denver men’s lacrosse team will be remembered for a first under the direction of head coach Bill Tierney. It was the first and only time in his 10 years with the program that his team did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“Every once in a while, you need a kick in the butt to get yourself moving again,” Tierney says. “We’ve been very blessed here having gone to nine tournaments in a row and five Final Fours. I think sometimes when you look at the bad, you have to take a step back and have some gratitude about the opportunities that we are all given here.”
But make no mistake about it, Tierney has no intention of making it two years in a row without a tournament appearance.
The No. 9 ranked Pioneers will open the 2020 campaign this Saturday when they travel to Colorado Springs to face No. 15 Air Force. The first five games of the season for DU will be played in Colorado, including home match-ups against No. 7 Duke and No. 10 North Carolina.
“We love playing those big ACC schools,” says senior captain Danny Logan. “Those games are always fun; they’re back-and-forth and really fast. We obviously want to get through our first game against Air Force, and they always play us really tough. But playing those big ACC schools, we think we can compete against anyone in the country. And we are out to prove ourselves every game we play.”
Logan and fellow senior captains Ethan Walker and Colin Squires have their hands full this season. In addition to trying to get the Pioneers back to postseason play, they are helping mentor 17 freshmen. In comparison, there are only nine seniors on the team.
“They are going to make mistakes,” Walker says. “We are here to help them learn from their mistakes and push them to be great players and turn them into great Division I players.”
Walker has been selected as the 2020 preseason offensive player of the year from the Big East Conference. By the end of the season, he has a chance to end his college career as one of the best to suit up in the Crimson and Gold. Walker currently ranks fifth in Pioneer history in points and sixth in goals.
“Awards and accolades are awesome, but it’s more about the team winning and the guys on the field competing day in and day out,” he says. “For me, it doesn’t matter how many points I score, as long as the team is winning. That’s what I’m happy about.”
The student-athletes are focused on making sure they are doing the “little things” (working out harder, extra film study and getting out to practice earlier) to make the team better. It feeds into this year’s team motto: Be grittier. Come postseason, the athletes believe fans will notice the difference.
“There’s going to be no lack of effort on this team,” Logan says. “Everyone wants to play, and they want to play really hard. There might be some mistakes early on, but as we grow together, I think we are going to get better as we clean up the little things.”
Thanks to the generosity of former players, parents, alums and friends of the men’s lacrosse program, $1.25 million has been committed to create a head coaching endowment. Moving forward, the head coach position will be known as the William G. Tierney Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach.
“This endowment is really special because it means that people have not only sacrificed, but also given a lot of money toward this due to their love of the game and love of Pioneer lacrosse,” Tierney says. “It will live on forever.”
Tierney is a 2002 U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Famer, a two-time National Coach of the Year, a winner of seven National Championships (one of them at DU) and a 1998 World Champion with Team USA.
This is the second coaching endowment at the University of Denver. In 2018, DU established the Richard and Kitzia Goodman Head Hockey Coach.