Over on LaxUNation, a former D1 player (who for now is anonymous) has decided make a case that Bill Tierney is the reason Denver beat Villanova. People might agree with this sentiment at first, but the anonymous blogger goes on to say that Tierney won the game for Denver by yelling at the refs, and eventually influencing them to make calls for the Pioneers. According to this “someone”, this was the difference maker in the game.
The blogger points out that Brian Karalunas had 4 penalties (out of Villanova’s SEVEN total penalties) while Denver, as a TEAM, had none. The blogger points out numerous face off violations against Villanova as well, and he credits these calls to Tierney screaming at the refs.
Was Tierney screaming at the refs? Yes, and he’s been doing that for years. Maybe not the best example to set for our youth and high school coaches, but at the D1 level, it’s acceptable. Petro does it, Danowski does it, most coaches do it. Not perfect, but normal. So nothing new there. Was Tierney singling out Karalunas and Villanova’s face off guy? Yes, he was. But there was a reason for that!
I rewatched the game to make sure I had this right, and while there were a couple of calls that were questionable (as with almost any lax match), the vast majority were simply ON POINT. I didn’t see ONE face off violation called on Villanova that shouldn’t have been called. Nova won a lot of F/Os in this game, but with a good jump often come infractions. That is called lacrosse. Denver took a more defensive and conservative approach, but the reason Villanova was called for so many violations is simply because they were making them. I was able to count at LEAST one clear violation that was called each quarter. Denver simply wasn’t jumping the whistle. Villanova was.
The other issue Tierney screamed about regarding face offs was that the Villanova player was clamping and then putting his elbow on the head of his stick while fighting for position, giving him extra leverage. But I didn’t see the refs call that once. So where exactly is the connection, anonymous ex-D1 blogger? Stats are nice, when they back up the point you’re TRYING to make, but they simply don’t tell the whole story.
When it comes to Karalunas and his 4 penalties, two of them were great calls. Definite slashes. Not even a question. A 3rd penalty called was clearly a penalty, but it shouldn’t have been on Karalunas, it should have been on #15. He slashed the guy right in the face as Karalunas was doubling. The refs just called it on the wrong guy. Both players’ numbers end in 5, so the mistake isn’t shocking. The 4th penalty (I think it was his 3rd of the day and in the 3rd qtr) wasn’t a great call, and I’m surprised it got called in the playoffs. That being said, he did seem to make contact to the head with his stick, even if it was a brush.
So in the end, Tierney could have yelled and influenced all he wanted, but Denver won, and Villanova lost, because of the play on the field, and nothing else. The refs did a good job, kept the game even and each team could have won. Denver may have gotten 1 or 2 extra calls that Nova didn’t, but is that because of Tierney, or because Denver was playing at home? HFA means something, doesn’t it?
It’s easy to blame Tierney and his “influencing”, but it’s correct to just give credit to Denver for winning. The refs simply had nothing to do with it.