"They feel that they were given a great opportunity by Syracuse to let us come to the dome and find out what it was all about," Tierney said.
The other semifinal at the Linc pits seventh-seeded Duke against unseeded Cornell.
After accepting the Denver job in 2009, Tierney called Orange coach John Desko and told him the Pioneers needed to know what it was like to be a championship team. There's no more daunting task than the Carrier Dome, Tierney told Desko.
Cameron Flint was the lone freshman to score that day, and on Saturday he will be leading the charge. The senior midfielder from Canada has 36 goals and 14 assists this season. He had three assists in the team's 12-11 quarterfinal win over North Carolina.
Midfielder Wesley Berg a sophomore, has 56 goals and 16 assists for the Pioneers this season. Eric Law, a senior attack, has a team-high 75 points. He scored three times in the quarterfinal win to help Denver erase an early five-goal deficit.
"We talk about playing the game fast but playing it smart as well," Tierney said. "Our guys take great pride in that."
Syracuse defensemen Sean Young and Brian Megill will look to shut down the Pioneers, but defensive midfielder Steve Ianzito may miss the game with an ankle injury. The Orange feature three local players: Matt Walters (Haverford School), Matthew Lerman (Episcopal Academy), and Bobby Tait (Germantown Academy).
Tierney coached 22 seasons at Princeton and returns to Philadelphia 21 years after capturing his first title with the Tigers at Franklin Field. The main difference this time will be the color of his hat, he said. The Hall of Fame coach won six NCAA championships at Princeton and this is his second final four with Denver.
"We're getting there," Tierney said.
NCAA Lacrosse Schedule
DIVISION I MEN
At Lincoln Financial Field
Semifinals: Cornell vs. Duke, 2:30 p.m.; Syracuse vs. Denver, 5
Championship, 1 p.m.
DIVISION II MEN
Championship: Le Moyne vs. Mercyhurst, 1 p.m.
DIVISION III MEN
Championship: Rochester Institute vs. Stevenson, 4 p.m.
DIVISION I WOMEN
Semifinals: North Carolina vs. Northwestern, 5 p.m.; Maryland vs. Syracuse, 7:30
Championship, 8 p.m.
Contact Matt Breen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @matt_breen.