And that's so true. Tufts, Salisbury, Stevenson and RIT could beat a lot of Division I teams in a one-game matchup, but probably couldn't hold up for an entire year of playing that type of schedule.
Most Division I coaches agree that lacrosse has reached a certain degree of parity, but there is room to grow. There have been some big upsets in the first two weeks, including Hofstra's 10-7 win over North Carolina, Massachusetts knocking off Ohio State, 16-9, and Penn State beating Cornell, 8-7.
None was more surprising than High Point — which only started a program three years ago — stunning Virginia, 12-11, in overtime. Virginia is 1-2, and the Cavaliers might struggle to make the NCAA playoffs.
"One of the caveats of parity starts with the upsets in stage one," said Tierney. "Stage two is not being surprised when those upsets happens. We're now at that point."
Decades ago, lacrosse was considered a regional sport played mostly on the East Coast. Now, it is played all over the United States, and more and more colleges are recruiting Canadian players as well.
"I just don't think we should be surprised anymore," said Sowell of the upsets. "It's been happening over the last three, four or five years, and really it does come down to numbers. When you look at all the kids who are playing out there not only in the United States but in Canada and the programs that have committed to the sport of lacrosse with full-time assistant coaches and all that goes with it, it's just not surprising when I see High Point beat Virginia or some of the other upsets.
"I suppose some will continue to raise an eyebrow when they see a score posted like that, but I don't think any of us coaches these days are a bit surprised when they see that."
Tierney says some of the new balance has been visible the last couple of years. The first tournament was played in 1971 and only 10 teams have won any of the 42 titles, with Syracuse as the leader. The Orange has won 10, plus the one it vacated in 1990.
Besides Syracuse, it seemed like the title was always passed around among Virginia, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, North Carolina or Cornell.
But Loyola won it in 2012 followed by Duke in 2013 and 2014, and Denver last season.
"I was caught off-guard that UNC lost to Hofstra," said Evan Washburn, an analyst for CBS Sports Network. "But I think what it does, for me at least, is, it makes me re-evaluate what I thought of Hofstra going into the season. I think there's a healthy balance, but this is kind of the world we live in where we want to predict things and forecast things, but we have to be ready to be wrong on some of those things."
"That's the world you live in the first few weeks of any season. There's going to be upsets. It just so happened that they occurred all on one weekend."
Tierney won't allow his team to get overconfident. He knows the landscape of college lacrosse has changed from the days when he won a title with Princeton in 1994 followed by three straight with the Tigers from 1996 through 1998.
The No. 2 Pioneers are 2-0 and played well last week in a 14-12 win over No. 5 Duke, but they almost lost the previous week, edging Air Force, 10-9. Every team is gunning for Denver. Not only are the Pioneers the defending champions, but they have won 15 straight.
"The city, the state, the community, they won't let us forget last year and I get it, it was wonderful, but now we have to move on to this year," said Tierney. "I think our guys have been working their butts off but you still have to go through real-life experiences."
"Air Force was a tough one for us and we learned from that one. We played pretty well against a good Duke team so we've been at both ends of the spectrum. They realize that they can lose at any time."
Loyola coach Charley Toomey is trying to get the same message across to his Greyhounds (2-0), who have already beaten No. 8 Hopkins and No. 10 Virginia.
"Parity is here to stay," said Toomey. "The momentum from winning can carry you for a while, but you have to keep your head down and focus on the next practice, the next game. If you don't keep your head down, you're going to get tagged."