Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 34
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
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FAMILY BUSINESS: Former Princeton University men’s lacrosse star goalie Trevor Tierney makes a save in action during his career in Major League Lacrosse (MLL). Tierney, the son of Princeton men’s lacrosse head coach Bill Tierney, stopped playing last year due to a concussion and is now the defensive coordinator for the MLL’s Denver Outlaws. Showing that coaching is in his blood, Tierney has helped guide the Outlaws to the MLL semifinals.

Tierney Shows Coaching Is in His Blood, Helping Guide Outlaws to MLL Final Four

Bill Alden

His father, Bill Tierney, is a Hall of Fame coach of the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team.

One of his sisters, Courtney, is the head coach of the Pennington School girls’ basketball team while his other sister, Brianne, is an assistant coach for the Monmouth University women’s lacrosse team.

So when Trevor Tierney decided to end his playing career after suffering a concussion last summer while playing for the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the star goalie’s next step in the game was a no-brainer.

The Outlaws asked Tierney to stay with the organization as the team’s defensive coordinator and he jumped at the chance.

“I am very close with the guys on the Outlaws from the management all the way to the players,” said Tierney, 29, who suffered more than 10 concussions in his playing career and dealt with post-concussion syndrome after the knock last summer.

“Coach [Brian] Reese asked me to help with the defense; it was an easy decision.”

With Tierney, a former All-American goalie at Princeton, running the defense, the Outlaws posted an 8-4 regular season mark, the second-best record in the MLL.

This weekend, Tierney and the Outlaws head to Boston for the MLL championship weekend. The second-seeded Outlaws will face No. 3 Los Angeles in one semifinal on Saturday with the winner advancing to the title game the next day against the victor of the Philadelphia-Rochester semifinal matchup.

Tierney, who is the only goalie with an NCAA title, a world championship, and a MLL crown on his resume, knows what it takes to win championships.

“It’s going to be tough, we are playing a team we beat twice and then beat our butts the third time we played,” said Tierney.

“Coach [John] Tucker is a good coach. They have Jesse Hubbard (record-setting goal scorer at Princeton and in the MLL) and a good offense. It’s a brand new season and we get a week off to prepare.”

For Tierney, the transition to coaching has involved exuding some toughness. “I think that the toughest part of going from player to coach with the same team I played on is that I was friends with a lot of the players,” said Tierney, a 2001 Princeton graduate and an eight-year MLL veteran. “When practice starts, the goofing off has to stop and I have to be a leader.”

Coaches in the MLL have to make the most of their chance to lead as the teams typically practice once a week.

“We don’t work as hard as college coaches or put in as much time,” said Tierney, who runs Icon Lacrosse along with former PU and current Outlaws star Josh Sims and does freelance graphics work.

“We practice once a week on Fridays; we have a Saturday walk-through and then the game later that day. I watch film during the week, I put together a scouting report and make sure that they are well prepared.”

In putting together the Outlaw defensive scheme, Tierney has been forced to broaden his horizons.

“The defense in the MLL is so different from college,” explained Tierney,

“We only have three poles and we have great athletes at short stick. We don’t slide as fast. The Princeton defense is known for sliding and recovery. I do use some of the principles I learned in college.”

There is a definite Princeton influence on the Outlaw defense with the presence of former Tiger stars Zach Jungers and Dan Cocoziello playing in the unit.

“I kind of knew both of those guys before they got here,” said Tierney.

“I like coaching Princeton defensemen; they are so well coached in college. I can rely on them to be play smart. You see a lot of defensemen who are huge athletes with a good stick but they are not as sharp on the field. It is Zach’s first full season and he has done really well, he has made a lot of progress. Coco has only been here half the season and he is learning every game.”

In Tierney’s view, coaching at the professional level comes down to figuring out when to push the right buttons.

“The challenge is working with the best players; pushing them here or there,” said Tierney.

“You need to be more encouraging. I’ve been watching “Hard Knocks” on HBO; it is interesting to see how the Cowboys’ coaches handle things. Motivating pros is different; you can’t get in their faces. There have been a couple of cases where they weren’t being motivated or things weren’t going well in games where I had to instill a little fire to get them going.”

For Tierney, regular chats with his father have led him to instill some different things with the Outlaws.

“I talk to my dad every week before the game and tell him what we are planning to do,” said Tierney. “I get his feedback; sometimes I change things up a little bit.”

For the time being, Tierney is not planning to change things and follow his father and sister into the college game.

“I’m keeping my options open,” asserted Tierney. “I like living in the west. Right now I like pro coaching. It doesn’t take as much time but it’s a good way to stay in the game.”

It’s certainly good for the game of lacrosse to have another Tierney in the coaching ranks.

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