2016 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship
Saturday, May 28, 2016
North Carolina 18, Loyola 13
COACH TOOMEY: First, I want to congratulate North Carolina for a great game today. They're a terrific team and playing with so much emotion right now. I think that caught us off guard, the speed of the game.
And like I said to my team, I asked them to show me their heart at halftime. And I thought they did.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players.
- Either of you, along those lines, just how did you guys respond to that hole and did you feel like you were able to keep things interesting for about as long as possible there?
Zach Herreweyers: I think the offense kind of just really stuck with the game plan. If you look at the stats, I think the offense did a good job. We capitalized on our opportunities. At the end of the day, UNC comes out with a big win. We wish them the best moving forward.
Pat Spencer: I think Graham [Savio] started to pick it up at the faceoff X. That's where we started to get it going.
Once we started being able to play make-it, take-it, I thought we capitalized on all the opportunities we could.
- Pat, do you feel like when you were able to get your guys on in the half-field set that you were able to get what you wanted offensively?
Pat Spencer: A couple I'd like back, when I slipped a couple times trying to get my footing but for the most part I thought we got what we wanted offensively. Like Zach said, we stuck with our game plan and had a good game plan going in. If you looked at our efficiency, we got good efficiency, moved the ball, and got good looks. We scored 13 goals, not too bad.
- Pat and Zach, could you describe what that first quarter looked like, especially you're at the end of the field where you're watching it largely happen, the huge margin, and just how they jumped on you, what's going through your minds? What's the sideline feel like when the game just became what it did in that first quarter?
Pat Spencer: The energy stayed positive all day.
That was our goal going in. Our mindset was one goal at a time. Can’t make up nine goals in one possession. So we were really focusing on just sticking to our game plan, trying to can the shots we got and keep working hard to get open looks. I thought we did a good job but not enough.
Zach Herreweyers: The offensive end was trying to stay composed. Like Pat said, you can't score nine goals in one possession. Every time we were bringing it up we're saying one more, one more. Nothing to lose when you're down by nine. You have to be efficient, and I think that's what we did there today.
- Can you talk about the start you had in the third quarter?
Pat Spencer: I think it started at the X again. Once we got the ball and we were able to keep getting possessions over and over, we were able to play at our pace, which is what we like to do all year, play at our own pace and keep the ball moving, and that's what happened there.
Zach Herreweyers: Nothing more to add on that.
- Summarize your 2016 season?
Zach Herreweyers: It says a lot about our last season actually coming off an 8-7 record or
whatever it was. We look at all our guys maturing. Being a senior, it’s pretty special. We had six one-goal losses last season and this season six one-goal wins. I think that was a
big thing in our year, and look back at Bucknell, a one-goal game, our season could have been
completely different. The guys really bought in and we made a run for the Final Four this weekend.
Pat Spencer: I think we progressed all year. If you look at it from the beginning of the season to now, I don't think anybody would have put us in the Final Four, like Coach was saying in the locker room after our Navy loss. But obviously it was an uphill slope all year and we got better and better as a team. The chemistry was always there. But on the field I think we just progressed all year.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
- Can you talk about what was North Carolina doing that made things very difficult for you guys?
COACH TOOMEY: They did everything we saw that they were going to do on tape. Quite honestly. We talked about the approaches that we were taking to the ball. We were not taking great, smart approaches. We're a team that likes to force people to their weak hands and slide when it's time to slide but try and win a
matchup when we can.
And they really did a good job of dodging and kind of creating a situation where the guys are concerned are we coming near man or are we coming from the crease. And I think that moment of indecision killed us.
And we had a lot of moments of indecision. And when we did slide, we just didn't take great approaches to the ball. We didn't give our goalies a chance to make saves today. And that was the most disappointing thing. We felt if we could dig in and play solid defense that North Carolina might bail us out by taking a 15-to-
17-yarder and in that first quarter really everything was on top of the crease. When they did get the 15-yarder, that one went in, too.
So we kind of were in a little bit of a tailspin. We
played about four different defenses in the first half. We felt the zone may have slowed it down just a little bit. But it's tough when you give up that 15- or 16- yarder in the zone when you're getting to it and it goes in. So they are bwho they are. I mean, they're an athletic team in the midfield. [Steve] Pontrello is terrific. I think we are glad we didn't short stick [Chris] Cloutier today because he was terrific. He was excellent.
And if they get you sliding and they're banging the ball they're going to end up with finishes around the cage and it could be a long day.
- You mentioned about asking your team to show their heart in the second half. What else do you say to your squad in a situation like you guys were in at halftime?
COACH TOOMEY: We talked exactly what the boys talked about is the efficiency. When we had the ball, we felt like we could score. And when we had the ball, I think we may have been five of seven in our possessions at one point. And we just weren't getting the ball down there. And it really early started at the X.
[Patrick] Kelly was terrific today at the X, especially in the first half. We felt like do you fix the defense and really try to step us out of character and chase the ball around and slide early, where now it might open up more opportunities for North Carolina. Or do we change the face off X and try to get a couple of extra possessions there and maybe we can get some make it-take it opportunities. So we talked about putting two short sticks up on the wings.
We played with an offensive middy and short stick there. And Graham just battled. He showed us his heart. He bowed his neck in the second half. He started to win some 50/50s and he gave us that chance to claw back in.
I think there were again some opportunities that on those ground balls that we wish we would have come up with. Maybe a finishing shot on top of the crease that we go behind the back which we haven't really done all year.
But, like I said, when you're looking up at that scoreboard like they were at nine there's a lot of emotions on the sideline we asked them to stay the course, try to continue to win the 50/50s and bow their necks, and they did that for me today.
- You made the goalie switch after the first quarter. Was that as much as to ignite the offense-- the defense at that point to have something to change in that spot or was it a little bit of kind of saving Jacob from getting shelled a little more at that point?
COACH TOOMEY: I think it's a little of both. You jump in the zone get the look you want. When that one goes in you think maybe he's not seeing it today. But when you start off with five goals inside seven yards and I think he had one coming down the alley where it hit him and he just held the pipe like we asked him to do, it was tough.
It was tough. And he's a freshman out there and the lights are going to be a little bit brighter and the fans and the hearing and the communication. That was probably the biggest thing that our team didn't do today was communicate.
And it starts with David Manning and sometimes it ends up in that goal to get the guys to the right spots. I just didn't want him to go through a second quarter similar to the first quarter and sometimes changing your goalie can jump-start your defense. And I thought Grant [Limone] came in there and did a good job for us.
- Can you talk more about Cloutier and all the things that he was able to do today and the things that you obviously couldn't solve?
COACH TOOMEY: Yeah, he's a strong left hander. He's a Canadian finisher. And he's a bull dodger that will run through checks. If you don't take a good solid approach and kind of be physical with him top side and push him off his line, then he's going to run through the head of your stick and he's going to finish it. That's a
tough pill to swallow, because as good as we've been, I think [Duke’s Jack] Bruckner hurt us early in this tournament, we made the adjustment at halftime and we were able to clamp down on a kid very similar to Cloutier.
Today it really didn't happen for us. We just didn't really get that second that we needed when David was kind of hashed up off of them and credit North Carolina. They found him and the kid flat out finished.
- Talk about the emotion with which UNC played. They're the only unseeded team here. Did you get a sense they were playing with nothing to lose and when it got going they built on that momentum?
COACH TOOMEY: We don't really pay attention to the other locker room. We evaluate personnel and come up with a game plan. We knew they were a good team. We've watched all the films of the games they played this year. And we knew if we could make it a game where we could dig in and battle defensively and make the 50/50 win loss margin at the X we'd give ourselves a chance because we thought we could score. And, again, it just didn't happen in that first quarter. And the game kind of slipped away from us a little bit.
But hats off to them. They are playing with that emotion. We clawed back into it in the riding game. I thought we got the ball back a few times. But that was just it, we were clawing at that point. And they made the plays when they had to.
- Patrick Spencer just put together one of the best freshman campaigns we've ever seen in college lacrosse. Could you talk about what he was like when he came in as a player and the development you've seen from him over the course of time since his freshman year to now or since when he came in to now?
COACH TOOMEY: I think I started to recognize that the other day when I was down at Johns Hopkins, I'm watching McDonogh and Boys' Latin play and I remember sitting there a year ago watching Pat thinking this kid might be able to help us next year. I don't know how much but he might be able to step on mthe field and be our quarterback.
To watch his development from the fall through the course of this season, what takes you back is just his composure with the ball. Right-handed, left-handed, being able to be physical and then step away, look through the defense, has handled every situation that's been thrown to him. A press out, an early slide, a physical game, nothing fazes the young man.
And we're pretty happy he'll be in our locker room for three more years. And our challenge is to make sure mthat the guys next to him continue to take some pressure off him, because I thought Zack Sirico and Zach Herreweyers helped develop him into the player he was this year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.