May 29, 2011

Transfer Eric Law a Bright Spot for Denver, Roots for Former Team Salisbury

by Jac Coyne | | Twitter

Salisbury transfer Eric Law had two goals and three assists Saturday in Denver's 14-8 NCAA semifinal loss to Virginia. He'll be back at M&T Bank Stadium in Sunday to root for his former team to exact revenge against Tufts in the Division III championship game.

© Lee Weissman

BALTIMORE -- When Denver men's lacrosse coach Bill Tierney was watching Eric Law, a transfer from Division III power Salisbury, in fall ball last year, he was a little bit surprised. A local kid from Centennial, Colo., Law had left the Sea Gulls, where he played for an NCAA championship in 2010, and wanted to take a shot at making the Pioneers. But he was kind of an unknown entity.

"When we heard last year that he wanted to come back, it was certainly with open arms, but I didn't know what kind of player he was," said Tierney, standing outside of the Denver locker room Saturday after Virginia ended the Pioneers' season with a 14-8 victory in the NCAA semifinals. "I hadn't seen much of him, but from the first days of fall practice, his lacrosse IQ and savvy showed."

Despite the loss to the Cavaliers, Law's lacrosse acumen and ability around the crease showed when he finished with two goals and three assists after being inserted for injured starter Todd Baxter (knee). His five points tied him with Virginia's Tewaaraton finalist Steele Stanwick for game-high honors.

"I think I was just the guy who was lucky; I was just in the right place at the right time," said Law, who finished sixth on Denver this year with 17 goals and 15 assists. "My teammates made some great plays and none of my goals were unassisted, so it was me being able to find some open guys or me putting the ball in the net from some of those guys."

Law proved that despite spending a year in Division III, he could play with the big boys. His small-college roots even helped him become a presence at the Division I level, in some ways.

"The real surprise is he was such a hard worker and such a great kid, and that he did recognize the differences [between the divisions]," Tierney said. "Thankfully, he played in a program where it was kind of push, push, push and go, go, go. We had to turn that back a little bit, but he's a very smart kid. We never had a doubt from the first couple of days of practice that he was going to be on our first or second midfield."

Said Law: "[Salisbury coach] Jim Berkman helped me out and all of the players on the team helped me out a great deal getting used to the speed of the game and teaching me how college lacrosse is supposed to be played. That has definitely helped me out with the transition."

Law's move from the Maryland's Eastern Shore school was precipitated by a blend of family concerns mixed with a touch of homesickness, but he does not regret his decision to give the Sea Gulls a shot.

"It's always tough, especially when you're 2,500 miles away," he said. "I wanted to get home to be near my family and my extended family. There's also nothing better than playing in front of a hometown crowd. I loved Salisbury and loved my time there, and I hope they get some revenge from last year."

Salisbury's revenge could come Sunday against Tufts, which stunned the Sea Gulls in the 2010 national championship game, 9-6. Law played in that contest, one of the eight games he played in last year, including two starts.

It was his last game wearing the maroon and gold -- well, Salisbury maroon and gold, anyway -- but not the end of his contact with the Sea Gulls.

"They were all great this whole week telling me good luck with this game," Law said of his former comrades. "I've kept in touch with a bunch of those guys during the season, telling them good luck each and every game. I was excited to see them yesterday, and I wish I could have talked to them a little bit more. I'll be pulling hard for them and I'll be wearing all my Salisbury gear."

Law will be Salisbury's No. 1 fan Sunday and will undoubtedly find a sense of satisfaction if the Sea Gulls can even the score with the Jumbos. Still, he knows he made the right decision to go back home to Denver.

"When [Todd] Baxter got hurt, we knew the guy we needed to go to and he's a guy we'll look towards to be a possible starter next year," Tierney said. "Today he shot the ball OK, and he has great vision. He's a real lacrosse player and we're blessed to have him and thrilled that he was a part of it."

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