Denver’s REAL Key To Success: Being Better

Denver Lacross wins over Villanova
Denver WINS because of... Denver!
Denver Lacross wins over Villanova

Denver WINS because of... Denver!

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.


Karalunas in the regular season...

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.

About the author

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.


  •  Meh Connor…two big calls down the stretch in the fourth quarter were extremely questionable. The USC on the Nova FOGO is hard to judge, but unless the kid said something completely outrageous, I’d be inclined to keep the flag in my pocket in such a big game. Then the illegal body check they called when two Nova players sandwiched a DU player was absolutely ridiculous. I’m not saying it was Tierney who inspired the poor officiating, but there is little denying that the refs made some borderline calls in this one. However, that’s not necessarily what I have a problem with. If you want to call a tight one, call a tight one. But for the love of god, if you’re going to call borderline stuff on Nova you HAVE to call it on Denver too. They didn’t and that hampered Nova and aided DU. 

    •  I have no idea what the kid said, neither do you though.  But that’s not the point.  I said there were a couple questionable calls in the game, that might have been one of them.  The hit on Matthews was also questionable.  I mean I guess it could be called a penalty, but not really.

      Like I said, the officiating wasn’t perfect, and there were mistakes, but for the most part, it was good.  The borderline stuff I always chalk up to HFA.  Ask DIII, he’ll tell you it means at least 5 goals when Midd is playing (I kid!).

      Nova got treated like a road team, which they were.  Denver benefited from playing at home big time.  No one is debating that.  I’m just saying the penalties on Karalunas and the face offs had a lot to do with how the game turned out, but they didn’t get called because Tierney was yelling about it.  There were some questionable calls in the game, as there often are, but for the most part they weren’t on #25 and they weren’t made on F/Os.

      When I watched the game Live and again on DVR, Denver seemed like the better team to me.  And I still think that’s why they won. 

      • Interesting decision to excuse one-sided officiating as HFA…I’m not sure how that makes the officiating excusable. If anything, it supports the idea that the teams were treated inequitably and  frankly that doesn’t sit well with me. Nor should it sit well with you, because growing the game is about making a strong impression on the uninitiated and one-sided refereeing (so bad that the announcers felt compelled to discuss it) damages that impression. . If anything, it supports the idea that the teams were treated inequitably and  frankly that doesn’t sit well with me. Nor should it sit well with you, because growing the game is about making a strong impression on the uninitiated and one-sided refereeing (so bad that the announcers felt compelled to discuss it) damages that impression. 

        • allow me to parry.

          I’m not excusing the bad calls that were made.  And there definitely were some.  I’m not FOR the calls being made that way either… like HFA is a right.  But I do live in a reality where HFA is real.  In almost every sport.  You probably experienced yourself at ________.

          And you’re right, it does hold back the game and its growth.  And I’m not for it, but I can also be a realist sometimes, especially when in response to someone who went way off base.  At least in my opinion.  Karalunas had a couple more borderline “brushes”/clear slaps to the head that were ignored… like I said, the hit was a weird call and I don’t know about the fogo incident… otherwise, to a completely objective observer, it didn’t really look that bad.  Now HFA reffing is whole new post!

          • I’m more concerned with non-calls on Denver than with the penalties called on Nova. Again, if you’re going to call it tight, it absolutely has to go both ways. It didn’t. going to call it tight, it absolutely has to go both ways. It didn’t.

          • repetition is the essence of wetness?
            I agree.  There were a couple non-calls on Denver.  For me, the most egregious one was a not called moving pick on one of the DU goals.  Like I said, there were problems.  I just don’t think they were because Tierney was more effective at yelling.

    • The FOGO said a single word, a single syllable in frustration; f***.  He said it with his back turned away from the ref as he ran off the field. I know these facts to be 100% accurate.
      Outside influences wanted to make “history” as we heard over and over, so they did at Nova’s expense. NCAA should be ashamed.
      As for the coaches, Corrado has too much class to ever act the way Tierney does. Let’s see if Tierney, the refs and the NCAA get away with it versus Petro — I seriously doubt it..

  • – Only refs with sticks up their *** call brushes, especially in playoffs. Let’em play.

    – Having faced off in hs, I must say that when I did get illegal procedures, they always came in droves. Maybe the ref hated our fogo’s style, maybe he had a bad day. Who knows.

    – I recall an egregious, two-handed baseball swing from a Denver longpole landing on an attackmans ribs after a shot. That was really the only no call that had me jazzed.

    – Props to Denver for a great game and an incredibly diverse roster. They have more states represented on that team than anyone.

  •  I think Denver’s win was mostly due to Mark Matthews’ dirty Canadian dodge (sort of the opposite of the swim, not sure what to call it)…just watched the IL highlights, he has 3 in a row like that from the same spot, might want to slide Nova

  • So Denver played a perfect game with zero infractions, and the All-American screwed up… Buddy you have no clue what you are talking about. Plus you missed all the no calls that Nova should have had as Denver slashed them all the way down the field. People are saying 7-0 on the calls, it was more like 12-0 when you add in the no calls that Nova should have gone man up on. Get a clue. Tierney is classless and that’s not what the NCAA is suppose to be about.  

    • nope. not what I said.
      I said there were mistakes made.  Read the comments with Swanklax below and you’ll see some of the ones I saw as well.  It was not a perfect game by the refs.  The point I focused on was that Karalunas got penalties he deserved for the most part, and the face off infractions were legit.

      I also think Denver was the better team, although Villanova looked better earlier on.  The “slashing all the way down the field” isn’t that accurate either.  Both teams did that, and neither was penalized for it.  The slashes that were called mostly came on settled offense, and were often clear and to the head.  Two of the calls were mistakes. One slash was on 15, not 25, and one was pretty questionable.  But when you play aggressive ALL game, sometimes they call it on you.  I saw at least one clear slash Karalunas was NOT called for.

      Maybe it was a factor of Karalunas and Nova having a bad day and getting called for penalties.  I did not see as many possible slashes for Denver… and I feel like they played more conservatively on D.  Or maybe they’re just used to the fast moving Canadian style sticks.  Villanova didn’t look as prepared… but now that you mention it… I’ll watch the game again, for a 4th time, and try to look for what you pointed out.

  • No one mentioned the altitude, but it seems to me that the Denver team has an advantage because they are aerobically better adapted to mile high air.  Maybe with as much substituting as is done today, this is not an issue.  I guess that just adds to the home field advantage.  I saw a study recently that in a number of sports a loud partisan crowd effects the referees calls in favor of the home team, when averaged out.

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