Girls lacrosse powers Air Academy, Cherry Creek in search of new coaches

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

Air Academy girls lacrosse coach Sean Harmon gives instructions to his team during a game this season. (Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

Colorado's girls lacrosse landscape just underwent a big change.

First came the news that Sean Harmon, coach of defending champion Air Academy, had resigned. Then, longtime power Cherry Creek announced Thursday that its coach, Brianne Tierney, was leaving to pursue college opportunities.

Harmon, the only girls lacrosse coach Air Academy has ever known, actually resigned at the end of school this spring. He led the Kadets to a state championship in May, their second title in three years, and third overall.

Harmon's decision was first reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette. Air Academy athletic director Diane Shuck confirmed the move to CHSAANow on Thursday.

"He took our program from one that was fairly average to one that was a force to be reckoned with, and one that was among the top teams year after year after year," Shuck said. "A very, very big loss to our program."

Harmon and his wife are expecting their second child.

"I think he's just ready to really spend time with his family," Shuck said. "It's always hard to take, but definitely I can't thank him enough for the 15 years he gave to our program."

The Kadets went 17-2 this season, with the lone in-state loss coming to Centaurus in early April. They won their final 12 games against in-state teams, including a down-to-the-wire win against Cherry Creek in the championship game May 21.

Air Academy's first title came in 2009, when the Kadets went 20-0. Since that season started, Harmon's teams are 101-12. According to the Gazette, he was 202-46-2 in his 15 years at the school.

When the Kadets won another title in 2012, it was official notice that the program had joined the state's elite.

"I've got a team that's trying to change the mindset that everything goes through Creek and Kent," Harmon said prior to that season's championship game.

At this point, Air Academy's program has done just that.

The Kadets have been in the title game four of the past six seasons, and made five total appearances. Only Cherry Creek, which has made every title game in the sport's sanctioned history and won 10 championships, has matched the success over that span.

Shuck said she hopes to hire Harmon's replacement "somewhere near August or September." Harmon is helping in that process, and will also help in the transition to the new coach during fall ball.

"(Harmon) accomplished I think everything he wanted to accomplish. I think he feels really good about where (the program is) at," Shuck said. "It's definitely a top program. It's a destination job."

Tierney's exit means that arguably the top two girls lacrosse jobs in the state are open.

Cherry Creek athletic director Jason Wilkins tweeted the news that Tierney was leaving on Thursday:

She certainly has a college pedigree already. Tierney established the program at Division III Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, and coached there for three years, and has also assisted at Cal and Monmouth. She played Division I lacrosse at Colgate.

For Creek, it'll be the third time the program has been in search of a new coach since 2009.

Tierney, the daughter of University of Denver men's lacrosse coach Bill Tierney, took over in August 2012. She led the Bruins to a state title in her first season, 2013, and a runner-up finish this past spring. 

Tierney's teams were 28-9 in her two seasons. She also assisted with the school's field hockey team, and serves as the director of operations for DU men's lacrosse.