Denver coach Bill Tierney jokes that it took only four years for college coaches, including himself, to put Eric Law in the best position to succeed.

Law has gone from being a backup at Salisbury as a freshman to — after transferring to the Pioneers — a sophomore midfielder to a junior wing attackman to the quarterback of the offense in 2013. And Law has thrived in his latest role, setting both team and personal bests in assists (31) and points (64).


"So finally, after three years of playing — one at Division III, one at midfield and one at not his most comfortable position — in his fourth year of college, he gets to do what he does best, and you've seen the results," Tierney said with a chuckle. "He's just a phenomenal player."

Law, one of 25 nominees for the Tewaaraton Award this season, learned Thursday that he was not one of five finalists under consideration to be recognized as the top collegiate player in the country. But that meant little to Law, who is happier about Denver (12-4) earning the fourth seed and a first-round game in the NCAA tournament against Albany (13-4) on Saturday night.

"I've never had the mind of getting to those goals and setting career highs for myself," he said. "My complete goal was to make it to the tournament first, and get back to championship weekend, and hopefully win a championship. I don't really mind how we do it or how we got there or what kind of season I was having. As long as the team was doing to the best of our ability, that's all that really matters to me."

Law's evolution as the offense's primary initiator began last season when he teamed with Mark Matthews and Alex Demopoulos as the Pioneers' starting attack. Matthews drew each opponent's top defenseman and Demopoulos was the team's best playmaker, but the Denver coaches foresaw that Law would be the quarterback of the future.

"I think for Eric, he had to do a lot of adjusting," Tierney said. "Really, he's a quarterback, and he ended up playing on the right wing for us. So he learned a lot from Mark and Alex, and once those guys graduated last year, we felt that he knew that [offensive coordinator] Matt [Brown] was going to put the offensive team in [Law's] hands. He was going to be the quarterback and run the show, and that's what he does best."

Law credited Matthews and Demopoulos with schooling him on the nuances of leading the offense.

"I had great role models in Mark and Alex, and they were able to teach me the ways and how I need to prepare myself each game, and how I need to prepare my teammates and help them get ready for each game," Law said. "I think a great amount of credit has to go to them. They taught me how to do it and led the way, and now it's time for me to do that for the players below me."

Law, a native of Centennial, Colo., was lightly recruited by the previous coaching staff at Denver, and he chose to play at Salisbury. Although he had just seven goals and two assists in limited play as a freshman, Law credited his time with the 10-time Division III champion Sea Gulls for building a foundation.

"It completely helped me and brought me to where I am today," he said. "At Salisbury, it taught me how to be a winner, how to be a champion and what it takes in the offseason, and what it takes every single day to perform great on the field. It's not just that game that matters, but it's the preparation and all the practices and what you do. Coach [Jim] Berkman really helped me realize that it's more than just in the practices. It's what you're doing away from the team that proves what you can be. Those are lessons that will always belong to me."

Berkman said he was impressed when Law, who missed much of his freshman season after suffering a separated shoulder in the third game, returned for the last five contests, the final of which was the team's 9-6 loss to Tufts in the Division III title game.

"You could tell his competitiveness," Berkman said. "You never know when you're going to make a championship game in your whole life. That is your dream. And you're sitting out all year before you start getting healthy and you say, 'Holy cow, this game could win it all. I'm going to take my chances because I have a chance to win a national championship.' So I think that competitiveness and eagerness showed."

The Sea Gulls have won back-to-back national titles since Law's transfer, but Berkman wished that Law had returned to the team.

"Obviously, we'd be a little different team right now if he was playing attack for us," Berkman said. "He was a great kid, and he wanted to be great. He learned a lot from [attackman] Erik Krum and some of the older guys on that team that worked real hard to get better."

Law has paced the Pioneers this season, leading the offense or tying for the team lead in points eight times, assists seven times and goals five times. That's the result of Law generally having the ball in his stick and directing traffic when the Pioneers have the ball, and it is a responsibility that he enjoys.


"I've always been kind of comfortable with that," he said. "I feel like that's been one of my roles, to come in and keep adapting to different positions and different things I need to do. I do enjoy it and it's been a lot of fun."

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