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PLL Quotables: Quarterfinals

CHAOS


Coach Andy Towers on the outcome…


Credit the Redwoods. They came out with a lot of energy. They came out with a good game plan, they were opportunistic on the offensive end. They hit some good shots, I thought Jack Kelly played an outstanding game. The first half in particular they exceeded our intensity pretty much in all areas. We came out in the second half and showed some fight, which doesn’t surprise me, that’s what our group is. Look, they’re a good team, a really good team, and today was their day. We’ll take our hat off and it is what it is.


Towers on the offseason plan and if there are targets in the draft yet…


No, I’m focused on our current roster right now. Obviously this hurts, it’s not indicative of who we are as a team. But again, credit goes to the Redwoods there. I’m not focused on anything other this group at the moment.


Towers on what he takes away from a season and what defines it…


I feel great about this roster. I think we have talent, and the connectedness to win the championship. If I didn’t think that, I’d be making moves. I love this group. We didn’t have a great game today. That happens in sports, it happens in every sport, it happens to every team. If it hasn’t happened to you, you haven’t played long enough, it’s as simple as that. I’m not going to let the outcome of one game distort the value of 25 guys I love as people and I feel give us the best chance to win.


Coach Towers on building sustained success for the Chaos…


I think we have a lot of experience up front on the offensive end. We have a lot of athleticism and toughness on the back end. I feel like we have the best player in the world in Blaze Riorden in the goal, and we have a guy that fights you for every inch at the X in Nick Rowlett. I would say that our group is authentically connected. They are out for what’s best the team, and prioritize that ahead of what’s best for themselves, and I mean playing time and dressing when I say something like that. I think this season was a huge success, I’m certainly disappointed in that we didn’t reach our goal of winning the PLL Championship, but we ran into a team that played a really really good game in all facets, and sometimes you just have to take your hat off and say great job. I’m happy for Nat, I’m happy for his staff and their players, they came out played a great game when it mattered most in the playoffs, and they beat us. That happens to teams all the time. I’m not going to let this loss distort the success we’ve had over the last five years. For this team, those 25 guys and staff in there, this game hurts. We feel like we have the talent and we were in a position to go and compete for another championship and unfortunately that was cut short by a team that played really well and beat us today.


Coach Towers on considering going to Austin Kaut…

No, never gave it a second thought. Austin Kaut is an unbelievable goalie, he could be a starter in this league. He’s also a classic example of someone that cares more about the team than himself. We have all the confidence in the world in Austin Kaut, but there was never a point where we considered taking out Blaze or changing what we were doing on defense. They hit their shots. They had some garbage goal opportunities they were able to stick, and credit them. Those are great plays. Sometimes you just don’t have it. Today we just didn’t have it.


Coach Towers on only five players with points and what led to that…


I think Jack Kelly led to that. I mean, the guy played an unbelievably good game. There’s no question about it. He’s on the world team for a reason. He’s a starter in this league for a reason. He’s a great goalie, and he played a great game. That would be why we had lower production than normal, credit to him.


Coach Towers on the play of his rookies…


We felt great about the draft the night of the draft. And I’d throw Kurtzy in there as well, I know he didn’t dress for us in Salt Lake City or in today’s game, but he also played really well for us. Will Perry also had a great season for us. I couldn’t be happier. Listen, it’s very very hard to get drafted in this league, let alone make the 25 man and ultimately the 19. Periodically, let alone to make the 19 every single game. I think what it confirms is that the due diligence we did on those guys as people and as players was accurate. We tell these guys minute one, we don’t care who plays. We are going to make the decisions that we think give us the best chance to beat the next opponent on our schedule. We are going to be able to verbally justify those respective decisions. At times, it can be very hard to figure out who to go with and it can be a dice roll. But what it shows is that we had a very successful draft.


Coach Towers on philanthropic efforts and supporting pediatric cancer research funding…


Lacrosse is important to all of us. It makes all our lives better and more exciting. But it pales in comparison to the real fight that people have, especially diagnosed with a disease like that. For the league to bring awareness to that, celebrate awareness to that, hopefully increases the fight and accelerates the cure. If the PLL is a small part of that effort, that it clearly has its priorities set right.


Coach Towers on goals the team achieved this season…


We wanted to make sure we were consistent in executing what we practiced. Staying with scheme on the offensive end, staying within scheme on the defensive end. I feel like not only are our guys unselfish and talented, I feel like they did a really good job of that throughout the year. Each team in this league, and pretty much anywhere in sports, has their respective challenges. Josh Byrne getting hurt forced us to make some decisions. Him coming back obviously was a great thing to us. Honestly, I feel great about our locker room. I feel great about the players we have on our team, I feel great about our staff. After a game like this, where we didn’t feel like we played great and we played against an opponent that took it to us early and the the score was lopsided, yeah, certainly that’s frustrating. Like I’ve said, I am not going to let one frustrating performance dilute my thinking and try to find problems where I don’t think they truly exist. Sometimes the ball goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. You do the best you can to maximize your chances to score more goals than the other team. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But I”m not second guessing any person on our roster, I’m not second guessing anyone on our staff at all. I’m disappointed in the loss today, against a team that’s played well and is hot. But that’s it. I couldn’t be more confident in our team. If we had to suit up and play tomorrow I’d feel great about chances of winning, great about our preparation. It is what it is.


Coach Towers on considering matchups to better deal with Wes Berg…


Bergy is a hall of fame indoor and outdoor player. He’s unbelievably opportunistic, he’s an unbelievably good shooter. He’s a great teammate, he was on our team for two years. I’m a big fan of Wes Berg. I wasn’t a big fan of him hanging seven on us, but credit him. He makes a lot of really greasy and slippery plays inside, he’s been doing it his whole career, it doesn’t surprise us. You do everything you can to be aware of his craftiness, but there’s a reason he’s had all the success he’s had. He’s a very smart player, tough player, he’s got great anticipation, he’s got great hands, he doesn’t waste a shooting opportunity, and today he was fantastic. For Wes Berg individually, I’m really happy for him. Couldn’t be a more high quality, humble guy. I’m just not happy it was against us.


Mark Glicini on the outcome…


Just frustrated obviously, just five or ten minutes after the game here. I’ll take some time to reflect on it, but we have a good group of men and I just think it wasn’t our day today.


Glicini on the play of Will Bowen…


It’s critical. Every year you need one, two, or three rookies, and I think we had that this year. And that’s why it’s so frustrating, we have all the pieces. Will is well beyond his years. He’s really athletic, he’s great on the communication side which usually takes years in this league to get great at. He’s really reliable, week in and week out. I’m proud of him, he came a long way in the course of the year, and the best is ahead for him.


Glicini on Byrne back in the lineup…


He’s amazing, right? When he’s not in the lineup, other guys have to step up as a number one who are used to being either a second or third guy, working off ball. When Josh can be the number one guy again, it allows us to take pressure off the backside. It wasn’t as great as it could be today, but Jack Kelly, have to give credit to him. Having Josh, he’s just an all world player, for the past several years I’ve been saying he’s the best on the planet, just a really hard cover in space, he’s physical, and as you guys see every week he can do some crazy things. But the main point is he takes pressure off other guys and allow them to be great in space as a second or third guy.


Glinici on the play of the rookies…


Every single year you have a different personality in the makeup of a team. It doesn’t matter what level we’re talking about, obviously this is pro. It was great to see Minicus come into the lineup. Last year we had Mac who was shooting from range, that’s a totally different player than Minicus, so we adapted a bit to the personality and the scheme. Nick Rowlett is like his brother, tough as nails. That’s what you want at the faceoff X. Credit to Max Adler to come week after week and show him how to be a veteran in this league. Give credit to those guys, Nick Rowlett ready to play from day one, we saw that he’s not afraid of anybody at the faceoff x, and Minicus playing in space creates for us. We’re really lucky to have those.


Glicini on how the Chaos stay successful…


Crazy as it sounds, I still thought at the half we’d come back and win. I just think we’re a really connected group and we really believe in each other. We have great chemistry on the field, as you see what those guys do from the NLL to the PLL, and off the field. We set the standard over the course of a few years. Credit to Redwoods, they came out and beat us up pretty good today. For many years Nat and that team has been pushing. Credit to them. I just think, when I look back to our lock on our locker room year after year, we’re a very connected group. That’s the separating factor, the culture that we have.


REDWOODS


Coach Nat St Laurent on the win…


How bout them Woods, right? We’ve been working all year on trying to get better every week. We felt like, even the tougher losses we received this year we got better the following week, and that’s really the MO. We talk 1-0 all the time and keeping it about us. I’m really proud of our guys, when you get goalie play the way we got goalie play, and Wes, I joked with Junior that the texts I got from Wes this week has been different than I’ve gotten all year. And now I know why. I’m really excited, hope I get that same text next week. Proud of our guys, it was hot, they were tired, guys were getting banged up, it was a playoff battle. Any time you play the Chaos, they’re so well coached, they have such great players, what a great season for them and Coach Towers and his group. But it’s a great day to be the Woods.


Coach St Laurent on Kelly’s game…


If you rewind this five years ago and the journey he has been on, his perseverance, being about to go out there and play, we felt like we had two of the top goalies in the league in general. For him to come back from a knee injury, come back and win a starting job against a guy who was an all star and a rookie of the year, and go out in our first play off game. We had a terrible taste in our month, and we refused to let that happen. 1-0 is what we kept talking about, so for him to go out there and set that tone, against some of the best shooters in the league was incredible. I think it’s more than just this game for Jack. It’s been the journey and you have to look at it holistically with everything he’s about. I felt like the guys in front of him did a great job. I think they had two or three goals at half, and that was incredible. When you’re making the saves that he made, it’s special.


Coach St Laurent on the rookies and young players…


A lot of those guys have been on big stages. [Brian Tevlin] has two national championships, [Owen Grant] has played on some big time stages, and [Ryan Kennedy] has done nothing but prove himself every single day, every single game. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. Huge shoutout to York College and him repping those guys, he takes an enormous amount of pride in that and us DIII guys. You can go down the list, but I will say, one of the biggest changes our locker room has experience this year is the youth movement. These youngs coming in and playing, and the guys being in the league a little bit longer that I guess are veterans. Older guys like Ryder Garnsey, TD, Berty, those guys have stepped up their leadership. We just had so many guys stepping up today, the offense is getting better every single week. The youth movement, the young men in the locker room, we wanted winners, we brought winners in for a reason, we saw it today.


Coach St Laurent on dressing six poles…


Anybody who knows me and knows my history, going all the way back to the MLL days when we won a championship, we dress six poles. We always have. We’ve been trying so hard to get back to that this year, but we just could never get the pieces of the puzzle offensively and we wanted to give those guys chances to develop. Kirst and the young guys have. Fate had it that Nakeie couldn’t go. And by the way, young people watching, if you had a camera on Nakeie Montgomery in this game, that’s a teammate. That’s a teammate. He wasn’t playing, but he’s handing out waters, he’s getting towels for guys, he’s voicing his opinion on what’s going on in the game, and that’s the youth movement we have in this locker room. Having the six poles was huge. We had to spell Garrett a couple times, we were able to, once you get a big lead, with the rule, that I’m big on is if we can get a big lead, we’ll go ahead and faceoff with a pole. Because of the rule, and they’re trailing, it puts more pressure on them. So having those six poles was huge, and in the playoffs you need it, especially in this league.


Coach St Laurent on the revamped midfield unit…


The development, making some tough choices with the lineup throughout the year, tough decisions because these are guys we love, but this locker room is special. The one stat that is not going to show up anywhere is how great of a job those men did getting back on defense. If you want to beat the Chaos you have to take away transition and easy scoring opportunities. And they did it for the most part, a couple hiccups out there, but that’s the Woods. Still getting better every week and we have to find something to get better at, that’s one thing we’ll get better at. But they did an incredible job getting back on defense and stopping the other team’s transition.


Coach St Laurent on individual matchups against Schreiber with Archers…


He’s the MVP. It feels really good and I’m really happy for Garrett to be able to say defensive player of the year finally. He deserves it. There are some great jobs out there. But we aren’t going to change who we are. This time of year you get in trouble if you try and change things up too much. We’ve got a gigantic opportunity against the Archers. They are the one seed and they deserved it. We are going to enjoy this one for sure, and get ready for those guys. But we can’t change ourselves too much. We do like our LSMs. I’m telling you now, Owen Grant is a different kind of special. We’re just seeing different pieces of that young man. We’ll have some tough choices to make in the 19 lineup with hopefully Nakeie coming back. We know whatever group we get out there you’re going to see the effort you got today. We’ve been all about. We want to make sure, and you’ve heard it in our huddles, our effort has to make them tired. That’s something we try to take pride in.


Coach St Laurent on dealing with the heat warping sticks…


That’s a challenge each week. Wes Berg, we had a stick issue with him with the humidity getting to be too much for him. We try to keep the sticks cool, you have to, especially with those indoor guys that like their sticks a certain way. Those are the details you worried about all week. We’ve got a good liaison and he’s flying around the field in Nico, doing everything he can behind the scenes. At this point, I told the staff we’re not putting in anything magical. We have to trust the men to do what we expect them to do and get them what they need, and you turn into that servant leadership in the situation. You’re trying to find coolers for these guys, making sure they’ve got their meals the right way, and they’re as comfortable as they can be.


Coach St Laurent on veteran leadership…


Just being veterans, their leadership is very important. I think there was a time where we were trying to find ourselves early on and we were asking so much of Rob. These older guys, it was almost unfair to them, what we were asking. But if there was anybody who could do it, it’s those guys. The leadership of an Isiah Davis-Allen that doesn’t get talked about enough. We talk about how great of a player Eddy Glazener is but he’s an incredible leader. Garrett Epple has really stepped up in that regard. Jack Kelly is always a calming presence in these meetings. So this balance that we’re slowing starting to put together from superstars becoming leaders and influencers. Rob has done an incredible job with the young guys showing them what to do during the week this season. Garrett Epple has done an incredible job leading film work during the week. So many guys are buying into this and chiming in, and that’s been the difference when you have so many young guys.


Coach St Laurent on offensive play…


I love Wes, and when you put a short stick on Wes, and we’re able to get the midfield production that we got, you’re in trouble I think. That’s kind of what happened today. At halftime they switched and put a pole on him. Which gave our middies, Romar’s goal late as huge because they were putting up some fight and that was kind of the finalizer there, but our middies, we need them to do that. We have a group of those four middies, if they can continue to contribute, Jules had some big time goals today, if they can continue to score like that, we’re going to be a tough team for anybody to play.


Wes Berg on the game…


It’s fun to be in the playoffs. This is a 10 game season, it can feel like a long summer, but we started getting hot at the end of the season and coming together. The defense and Jack have been our backbone the whole year, a few new faces on offense are starting to click so it’s a good time to put it together.


Garrett Epple on the game…


To me, that’s a good all around team win right there. It started from the opening draw. First quarter was pretty even, and then you just saw what our offense and Wes can do. We know we have the ability to do that every year, and now it’s starting to show. So we have a lot of momentum, defense played really well. Jack Kelly played outstanding. I told him after the game it was the best game I’ve ever seen him play. Some of those saves were just ridiculous. We have a lot of camaraderie right now, at the right time I hope, and we’ll see the Archers next week.


Berg on tying the PLL record with seven goals…


It’s one of those things, at the beginning of the game I thought it took us a little bit to settle in. We were trying to make something out of nothing. You look at our unit when we play unselfish, we have a lot of athletes, we have a lot of guys who can step up and shoot the ball. Guys like Ryder and Rob have great vision. When you come out of the box with a lot of speed and move the ball three or four times before we dodge again, it’s tough to stop. We did that a lot and I just kind of find a way to pick and get guys open or fall into a spot, and I was getting those eight yard step downs and the shots in front of the net which I like taking.


(Epple says, “High percentage”)


Until the end (laughing) my stick melted. It got hot out there and I think a sent three or four point blank that might have hit the rafters. But it’s always fun to play your former team and end the season for them, that’s what we’re looking to do right? We’re in the business of ending other people’s seasons. We got the job done today and it’s always a good feeling to do that.


Epple on the defensive identity of getting stops and turning them into goals…


We try to bring the same intensity every single week. I think having six poles today was extremely helpful, late in the year. Three great poles too. Ryan Kennedy has earned a spot on this team, John Sexton has been phenomenal since 2019, and now Owen Grant, our second pick coming in at the right time and playing phenomenal. It’s fun watching a big body like that running around, go to the goal and score goals. I think even back in 2019 the last time we went to the championship, our defense was very good. That’s the standard we hold ourselves to, and it takes six guys to get there. It’s starting to come together on the field and it’s pretty beautiful to watch.


Epple on playing on an island and the team defense getting CTs…


It’s nice to see the boys coming along (laughing). Those types of plays, especially in this league, are so monumental. They can change the momentum of a game in one minute. One stop. Ryan Kennedy had a caused turnover and loose ball by himself today, those are juice plays. Those really get your teammates going. That’s what we said at the end of the game today, and that’s how we’re playing right now. If we can continue to do that, I think we can win a championship. Defensively, we were just flying around on the field. It was amazing to watch. They’re a very good team. Josh Byrne is phenomenal, Ryan Smith is phenomenal and has great stick work, and fortunately it went our way today.


Epple on the play of Arden Cohen, and preparing for guarding Byrne…


I’ll start with Arden. We picked him up last year, and it was a transition for him into the pro game. It’s really been amazing to see him develop as a player and as a teammate too. He’s like a Cole Kirst. He has great spirit, guys like playing with him, and he juices everybody up. It’s a great attribute and I don’t think I’ve come across that very often. Now he’s playing at an extremely high level. He set the tone for the whole game. I forget who it was but he’s playing Minicus behind the net and helping up a lot when they’re trying to jam the crease, and he stuck somebody today. That really set the tone. He’s just playing out of his mind like everybody else. When it comes to playing against top talent in the league like Byrne and some other lefties that I go against, I just like going against lefties. I feel like it’s an advantage for me. I think that differentiates myself from other players in the league who are lefties and don’t necessarily like that. That’s kind of what I do. But Byrne is a fantastic player, he has a championship in the NLL this year, and he started off the game with that goal. Buried it. We are happy to beat them, and on to the next one.


Berg on ball sharing and the Woods team offense…


It’s a good sign. It shows they want to win and it’s about the team. They’re not worried about putting up points that way. They’re worried about us scoring and winning games. They’re doing a lot of stuff, getting a tough matchup. Sometimes they’re initiating, sometimes just distributing the ball. The way we move around up top, we try to muck it up in the middle and find ways to get each other open. That’s what we did, got a couple tap ins and a couple good step downs. It’s a good sign, they’ll tell you. They’re just as happy getting three or four or however many assists they ended up getting and winning rather than having five or six goals and losing by one. That’s what we want on this team is winners, and they lead by example and it’s great to see it. Like I said before our defense has been the backbone of this team. It’s good to see Epple finally get Defensive Player of the Year. I think playing against him and now with him as long as I have, in college and the pro league, with the player’s voting system there’s a lot of guys who might not have liked him and voted for him, so he’s earned that respect and couldn’t be denied. Again, for us, this is what you want. We’re playing a really good Archers team, they’ve been sitting around for a week so we have to catch them sleeping and we’ve got out work cut out for us next week.


Epple on the matchup with the Archers


What excites me is that they’re the one seed. If you want to win a championship, you have to beat the best team. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


WHIPSNAKES


Coach Jim Stagnitta on the game…


We just didn’t play well enough to win, and they did. It’s been a challenging year, right from the beginning. No excuses. Even when we were banged up, we had the opportunities. We didn’t execute this year very consistently. Certainly I take responsibility for that. We just didn’t do the things we needed to do consistently to be successful. We showed signs of brilliance, and I think there’s enough talented people out there. But I think today was kind of a mirror image of what our season was like. Just not enough, and not enough consistency. We turned the ball over an awful lot, a lot of mistakes that lead to opportunities for our opponents, and you can win at this level playing lacrosse like that.


Michael Ehrhardt on the game and the season…


I love this group. Unfortunately we weren’t able to put it together this year. For the most part, you have to be consistent in this league and you have to play well together for four quarters. You can’t play two quarters well and take two quarters off, you’re going to get crushed. At the end of the day, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and be more consistent throughout the whole year. That obviously showed down the stretch for us. We really beat ourselves, I don’t think some of these teams are that much better than us. But we kill ourselves. We make little mistakes, little details, and especially in this game and how competitive it is now, the margin of error is just so much smaller. The talent that comes in every single year is just getting better and better. If you’re not ready to go every week, you’re not going to perform well and you’re going to get beat. That’s a little bit of the story this year for us, just consistency.


Ehrhardt on watching young players develop…


We asked a lot out of our rookies this year. We had a really good draft class. I thought Coach Stags did a very good job putting a lineup together. Obviously we battled some injuries throughout the year. It took a little bit to get everyone healthy. It’s a long year for those guys. From fall ball, to preseason, they play a whole year, then we ask them to come in and play at this level, it’s a lot. They gained valuable experience this year, and we asked a lot out of a lot of them, and a lot of those guys had a hell of a season. They’re going to be ready, battle tested now, come back hungrier and hopefully next year ready to perform again.


Coach Stagnitta on sustained success…


Mike makes a great point. It’s a great locker room. We have a foundation. We’ve been together a long time. Some of these guys, guys like Mike, I’ve been with eight or nine years since the Charlotte Hounds. Rookies don’t win you championships. They can help you, but rookies don’t win you championships, our veterans do. To your point, and this is the hard part because I love everyone in that locker room and it’s an unbelievable group, as Mike said we all have to take a good look and evaluate ourselves. I have to evaluate the roster going forward and what allows us to compete more consistently going forward. Look, it’s hard. These guys, they’re my guys. I ask a lot of them. So tough decisions going forward. But again, it’s pro sports and we need to do what’s in the best interest of the Whipsnakes being successful. So this offseason, the evaluation process is going to be difficult.


Ehrhardt on his 10 years as a pro…


For me personally this is year 10. I’m going to take a long hard look this offseason, really sit down and evaluate where I’ll go in the future. If it’s my time, it’s my time. If not, I still feel like I have some left in me. But life goes on. There’s a lot that’s moving on for life for me. I’m getting married next month, got a full time job that requires a lot of attention. For me, it’s really hard to walk away from this game. It’s something I’ve loved since I was a little kid. I’ve given so much to it, and it’s given me so much. It means the world to me, this community and these guys. It’s only getting bigger. I really take it heart coming here every weekend being around you guys too, the whole PLL staff and this locker room. The lacrosse community is such a tight community and everyone rallies around each other. It means the world to me. I’m happy to I was able to leave a little mark on it. It’s going to be a tough decision for me. Obviously we’ll talk through it, see what happens. I think that’s a lot for our locker room. We have some guys that have logged a lot of miles and a lot of years for us. That’s something that, guys will look in the mirror and see if they still have it for another year. But this game is awesome. It’s given all of us everything. I said it the other night, it’s a special game, it’s the medicine game, it really means the world to me. Whether I step away or not, it’s always going to be a part of me. It’s something special that will live with me forever.


Coach Stagnitta on going from Bernlohr to Phipps…


Like I said, this is really hard. To maintain a level of consistency that we have and success we have had, we talk about it all the time, because it’s why it’s so hard to continue to repeat. Because you assume it’s going to happen and you forget about the process and all the things that got you there. Sometimes, complacency sets in. And I don’t know if that’s the case, but I decide who goes out there and who plays. It’s my responsibility. Kyle was the goalie of the year last year. He’s won a lot of games for us. Whether people think it’s the right decision or the wrong decision, it’s the one I made. Because I think he’s that good, I respect him, and he deserved that opportunity. But he wasn’t playing well. Then that’s the next decision I have to make. Phipper has been there for us, he’s a veteran, he’s been in these situations, and he went in and did a solid job. I felt we played better on the defensive end in the second half. I felt we turned the ball over an awful lot on the offensive end. Phipper gives us some leadership, some confidence, he’s been around the league for a long time.


Stagnitta on what improved this year and looking at the offseason…


It’s hard to say we improved. We had to overcome some injuries, we had to bring young guys into our roster. I think if we improved anywhere, we improved in some athleticism and some youth. With some guys you haven’t even seen yet that we’re excited about. But I think if you look at the bottom line, at this point, and we said it week in and week out, it’s hard to look at the body of work we put out there over the last five years and say that in any given area, we improved this year. In fact if there’s a challenge or an issue, it’s that we didn’t. Again, we all have to look at ourselves and evaluate where we are. The loyalty to these guys and how I feel about them makes this all very difficult.


Ehrhardt on what improved this year…


Someone I’m really proud of, especially with his effort all year and I really think put it together this year is Connor Kirst. He’s a hell of a teammate, he could have been up for that award too, you could put all the Kirst brothers up for that. They’re a hell of a family. Connor brings so much energy on and off the field. He made some timely plays for us this year and I really thought he bought into the role we asked him to do, he did a great job. He’s only going to get better, the kid is just such a great kid. Always happy, big smile on his face, if we’re down he’s always getting guys up. He’s only getting better and he truly is one of the best teammates.


Coach Stagnitta on guarding McArdle and Sowers…


We did a little better job in the second half. Kieran takes advantage of situations, he’s been around the game so long. He’s slick, he’s got a great IQ, whenever you make a mistake, he’s in the right place. We made some mistakes down there that he took advantage of. We knew Sowers was going to be a handful. We did a little better job in the second half. Guys like him and Minicus, they really cause problems for a lot of guys in our league. There really haven’t been many of those guys out there. And it’s not necessarily what we have on our roster to practice against. We certainly did not do a very good job in the first half covering Michael, I’m not sure that’s an easy job for anyone. Certainly those two, as has been the case. It’s one of those things you have to look at as a coach and as a team, how do you build your team to take away the strengths and the way these other teams have evolved over the last couple years. Teams spent a lot of time figuring out how to play against us. How to guard Zed, how to guard Matt, thus all these big strong tough defenders. We’ve been able to maintain, but now it’s time to figure out how we can best contain and play against our opponents now. They’ve all raised the bar.


Ehrhardt on the Whips struggling to close out close games…


When it comes down to it, it’s the little details. Like I said earlier, we hurt ourselves more than a team beats us in my eyes. The attention to detail is where we’ve been so good the last four years, and I felt like we just struggled this year. We just weren’t able to put it together and win those close games. That was the hardest thing for us this year. I thought we could have played a lot better defensively, we obviously battled through some injuries, but no excuse, it’s next man up. We set a standard on this team that we have to play a certain way, especially on the defensive end, and we definitely did not live up to that this year. Which was a little bit disappointing, but hopefully it gets guys to be hungrier. Like we said we’ll evaluate and see if we need to make some moves, but on our side of the ball this year it definitely was tough, and definitely take responsibility for some of those close games.


WATERDOGS


Coach Andy Copelan on the game…


Hot one. Weather certainly played a factor. It felt like playoff lacrosse. We talked this week about prideful that Whipsnakes organization is. We knew we were going to get their best stuff, and I’m proud of our guys. I don’t know that it was the cleanest lacrosse game. But the guy to my right [Kieran McArdle] and Sowers, I thought those two in particular at the offensive end really carried the load, then we settled in defensively in the second half.


Kieran McArdle on the game…


I think you got certainly what you were expecting out of Waterdogs/Whipsnakes in a playoff game. Two veteran teams that have a lot of experience in the playoffs. We’ve battled each other the past three years here, luckily we came out on the winning side. But it was a good battle.


Coach Copelan on the heat and his opting for pants and a long sleeve shirt…


I’m a little bit of a creature of habit if you can’t tell by now. We’ve got a gameday routine, we have a great medical staff in case I go down one of these days, but we’re going to ride it out here.


McArdle on the success for him and Sowers…


We knew it’s a playoff game, we have to step up. Shots were falling early for us, we got hot, kind of just rode it. We’re the leaders out there on the offense and we’ve got to really step up in the playoffs if we want to make a championship run.


Coach Copelan on failing on a 6v4 and managing momentum in a playoff game…


It’s a great question. That man up will probably keep me up tonight. I guess deep down, you’re boiling a little bit as a coach, like what’s going on, what happened on that possession. But you need to have the ability certainly as we talked about at half, it’s reset yourself, in the moment we still had a one goal lead, we knew it wasn’t going to go perfectly according to plan, you just have to kind of put the focus on trying to regain momentum there in the second half and just turn it into a lacrosse game and make lacrosse plays over and over and over again. I thought our guys had the ability to do that, so I’m proud of the result there for sure.


McArdle on not converting 6v4…


That’s unacceptable. I think Coach had some nice words for us at halftime. And we know that’s unacceptable. You can’t do that in a playoff game. A great team like that is going to capitalize. Luckily we were going into halftime so we could regroup and get back together, but you do that in a 4th quarter in a close game, the momentum starts to swing and it’s hard to get back. That’s unacceptable, we have to be better, and we will be better.


Coach Copelan on the play of McConvey and getting more minutes…


We have a decision to make next week. I honestly don’t know the answer to that right now. I think we only have six days before we play in the semis here so we’ll have to figure it out fairly quickly. But whether it’s T-Mac or it’s Carraway, we have a whole lot of faith in both of those guys.


Coach Copelan on winning the middle of the field…


It’s just who we are. We want to assert ourselves between the arcs, so we talked about that. With the heat, as the game wore on, I think you saw more breakdowns on both sides that we were able to capitalize on. I think Higgins gets a 4 on 3 and [McArdle] was on the finishing end of that. That’s just kind of who we want to be, I’m not sure that these games won if you strictly have just a half field mindset.


Coach Copelan on the Sowers performance…


He was great. Between Kieran and Michael they changed their matchups a couple different times throughout the course of the game. Michael’s explosiveness anyone can see. You mentioned lefty goals, I’ll be honest I still don’t know whether he’s a righty or a lefty but he’s great off the dribble, he’s got great vision, and today when the ball was Michael and Kieran’s stick in particular, that made our offense tick.


CANNONS


Coach Brian Holman after the win…


(Points to empty chair). Jeff Trainor is supposed to be sitting here, but the boy from Billerica is literally up in the stands signing autographs right now. So he’s right where he needs to be and should be. Very thankful and grateful. I was worried about the Atlas. We have a saying in our program, respect all fear none. We just were wondering, are they going to put it all together. So our intent and focus this week was to pay them a lot of respect in what they can do. They have great players and great coaches. Our guys did what we asked them to do. Treated this game as the only game that matters. It’s a process we’ve used all year. I know you guys are sick and tired of hearing me say this, but it’s who we are. I can’t say anything else. I can’t make up stuff. Just proud and grateful and very humbled to be somewhere that nobody in their right minds would have ever thought. That’s impactful to me as a coach, and I know it is for them as players. I’m going to take a little bit of Prime’s glory and I’ve talking about belief, and belief, since the day we met in training camp. They do believe in who they are, and they do believe in each other, and that’s the power of team. With that, you can all things I think. When it all ties together it’s a powerful combination. I know that’s a long opening but that’s what I’ve got to say.


Coach Holman on his first playoff game emotions…


It’s special. Because, especially when you come from a place where we were coming from, it’s got to mean more. I think as the season went on, it started to mean more for us. Not so much the respect, but that we could do this. We’re good enough. Again, that’s the power of belief. I thought we were great before the game. I think our process is true right now. I didn’t sense a lot of nerves. As a matter of fact I sensed some looseness. And that’s another thing we talked about this week, we have nothing to lose. We are nobody. At the end of the day, I thought, and this isn’t a cut or a criticism, but I thought they had more to lose than us. We just wanted to play with that looseness and freeness, and I thought the guys did that. It was a really weird warm up, I was a little worried about that. We had to go to a bubble, the bubble was hotter than dog shit, and we had to stretch there to get back on the bus and come here. I told the guys, in the playoffs, this is the stuff you have to get used to. It’s not just wake up, go here, do this, do that, it’s a little inconsistent. So we tried to prep them for that as much as we could. So I felt good, and as the game went on, I felt like we were playing loose. We were playing confident and free. We weren’t playing clean there for a little bit, and that’s the half time talk. We are changing anything. Schematically, what we’re doing is working. Xander does what he does they get two ride backs, they back doored us two or three times. I was a little, not shocked because they do that, but I was disappointed we weren’t executing there. Because our schemes were good. One of the mantras for me as a coach is that I want our guys to trust the process but I never want to give teams stuff. If you’re going to beat us, you’ve got to beat us. We didn’t do that in the first half. In the second half we did that, they had to earn everything.


Coach Holman on managing emotions and celebrating the awards and honors while the season isn’t over…


To be honest, I don’t know how. I’d be a fool to sit up here and say we have it all figured out. I want them to enjoy all of this. It was a strange week for me personally with the awards thing. I’m not used to that. I don’t think anybody really loves to be in that. I was very grateful to be there amongst all those players and so honored to have a table full of Cannons there. That was something I was really proud of. But during the week, it just felt a little off, because there was a lot more talk about that than there was about who we were playing. We’ve done a wonderful job of that. We started talking about it about a month ago, about what do you want to sacrifice. You can have fun, you can enjoy these moments, but they don’t have to be the end all be all. The guys have done a great job of that. I haven’t sensed one bit that they’re looking like this is it. They’re on a mission. They want to get to that final four and see what we can do when we get there. So I have a lot of trust in those guys. I think we’ll be ok.


Coach Holman on first read on the Waterdogs…


I’m not ready for that yet. They are, yeah, we have a lot to process before we get there. We have to clean our stuff up first. And then we’ll focus in on what it is we need to do to compete with them. And I think that’s the operative word. We have to try to compete with them. Top to bottom, they’re loaded. They’re the defending champs. We’ll go back and look at our old stuff, probably not rely too much on that, the first game we played with them. And focus in on what they did today and what they did the last couple weeks, but not ready to dive into that one yet. Give me a little time.


Coach Holman on the play of Jonathan Donville…


Donny, earlier in the year I mentioned it, I just thank god every day he’s on our lacrosse team. We challenged Donny a little, probably around mid season, was finishing and dodging ability. He was getting opportunities if you look back early, he probably should have three or four more goals but he short armed a couple or hit a couple pipes. It’s just getting him confident that he can do this now. Now he’s become a legitimate dodging threat. As far as his off ball play, that’s always been a strength. Guys know that Donny is going to be working, and if you’re a smart lacrosse player like Asher is, or Marcus or whoever, you know you’re going to have your head up and at some point Donny is going to flash. You can get him the ball, and he’s going to finish it. I think his dodging right now has really separated him into a whole other level of midfielder for us. But we’s worked really hard at it, and at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. How much do you want to put in for what you’re going to get out. He’s taken it to another level, we had a talk in Salt Lake City about his workouts and how dedicated he wants to be and how good does he want to be. And now it’s starting to show up a little bit.


Coach Holman on first playoff experience for some players and help from veterans…


Ghits is, I get emotional talking about Adam. He’s the spirit of our team. He’s so selfless. Marcus and Kav and two of the top ten scorers in playoff history. We have experience there. I’d like to think that I was a genius and got all these guys together because I knew we were going to make a playoff run, but that wasn’t true. But I did not if we got into this situation, Kyle Hartzell, I don’t know how many of these games Hartzell has played in and I think he had a goal and an assist today, and Adam and Marcus, and Kav, we got guys who have been there before. We had them talk on Thursday a little bit, not a lot, to the team about just where mentally you should be focused. At the end of the day, if we’re true to who we are, it’s just another game. I go back to that because it’s really what we believe in and that’s our process and that’s our approach. I think that showed today. I didn’t sense any nervousness and it didn’t look like we were out of kilter and all so I think they trust the process and they trust each other.


Jeff Trainor on getting a win at Gillette…


Speechless. Almost. To have my family, my friends, so many people from Billerica and the local lacrosse community out here today was special. Obviously I have a lot of ties, I’m a Patriots fan, playing on this field, watched so many football games on this field, to come out and get a win with the guys and advance in the playoffs was everything. One of the best moments of my lacrosse playing career for sure. No doubt about it, it's really really special. And we’ve got a special group so I’m already looking forward to next week and seeing what happens there. So speechless besides that.


Trainor on the Cannons coming together this season…


I give all the credit to Coach Holman, Coach Thompson, and Coach [Mitchell]. A ton of roster moves this past offseason, and then it’s just buying in. Coach Holman has brought 19 guys together that made us all believe. That’s what we try and go out there and show on the field. We trust each other. We just play for 48 minutes, and then look at the scoreboard and see if we won or lost. That’s how we play. So all the credit to Coach Holman and our staff, and the guys next to me. There’s an unbelievable amount of trust between us, knowing that whatever happens, any adversity we face, we’ll be alright.


Trainor on arriving at Gillette and scoring a goal on Gillette…


Chills. This is all for Massachusetts lacrosse as a whole. It was a really special moment for me. To bury one was even cooler, that was the cherry on top. I had chills pregame, throughout the game, and still got chills. It was a special moment. It’s a memory that will last me for the rest of my life.


Trainor on what makes Coach Holman different…


His mentorship. Obviously he’s a fantastic coach, but the off the field stuff. The things he does in meetings throughout the week. I believe in him, and I’d run through a wall for that guy. In a heartbeat. You know me, if he told me to jump I’d say how high. It’s that type of relationship with him, and I know all the other guys feel that as well. He’s just a different type of leader and he makes you believe. I want to play for that guy. I would do anything for that guy. That’s the type of coach he is.


Trainor on playing on the rope unit with Ethan Rall…


He’s just a dog. A DOG. He’s…I’ll give him 5’8 and a half on a good day (laughs), but your favorite player’s favorite player can get it. That’s the type of player he is. That’s something our entire rope unit tries to go out there and do, and if starts with him. Then you have two SSDM of the Year nominees in Bubba [Fairman] and [Zach Goodrich], then myself, Pat, we’ve got poles up there like Hartzell, a bunch of dogs that want to go get it done. We try to be everything we can for this team in that unit, and between the lines. But it really starts with Rall, he kick starts us every game. I don’t even know the numbers but I saw at least 3 GBs, maybe two CTs, and a goal. Right there, who else is giving you that production? Rookie of the Year snub. SNUB.


Trainor on where they get their mentality and setting the tone…


It goes back to believing in each other. Knowing that if something goes wrong, the person behind you has your back. That trust, going out there and letting the fur fly and the chips fall where they may. We believe, and we trust.


ATLAS


Eric Law on the game…


Stinks. It’s a talented group on the other side. Credit to Coach Holman and his staff, they fly around. You can tell they really enjoy playing together, you can see it by the way that they play and the way they interact with each other in timeouts, in huddles and everything. Hats off to them for creating something that’s pretty tough to do in sports. A great turnaround from what it was last year. That offense, taking myself out of the game, that’s a fun offense to watch. Unfortunately we were on the other end of it today, they were the better team from top down. I was really proud of the way our team never quit this entire year. From the first game, losing a close one, winning that second one against the Whips, finally knocked down that door and beat those guys, feel like you’re going to go on a run, then lose some close games. You feel like you’re just right there. Sometimes in sports that’s just the way it goes. Sometimes it’s not fair, and you feel like the bounces just aren’t quite going your teams way as you continue to try and put in effort. But I’m proud of our team because it wasn’t a lack of effort at any time. It was a lack of execution yes, but it wasn’t ever a lack of effort. It wasn’t guys giving up on each other. We have a really close locker room and I’m proud of the culture that has been set in our room. But at the end of the day this is professional sports, you’re supposed to win games, and we have to figure out a way next year to get that done.


Coach Mike Pressler on the game…


We got beat. We got our butts beat. I’ll emphasize again what E-Law said: the better team won, the better coaching staff won. We got outplayed everywhere. We battled to the end, that’s great, but at the end of the day [the Cannons] got what they deserved. So we tip our hats and credit those guys. As competitive guys, it’s very difficult to say that. But at the end of the day it’s the truth. Unfortunately our season ends on a very sad note. We’re saying goodbye to everybody in person for the last time in the locker room here. It’s very different for me than college when you finish your season, you still see them in school. You get a chance to catch up with them. In this situation you don’t. Your farewell is today, which is going to be difficult. We learned a lot, I’ve learned a ton. A rookie coach here, has got to be better. We’ve got to be better across the board. We’ve got a whole year to figure it out and regroup and get better in 2024.


Coach Pressler on highlights for himself and the team this year…


The first win we had, we came back in the Whipsnakes game. For us, kind of a turning point, you look back on that Waterdogs game and how we lost at the end, it took us so long to kind of recover from that. You look back on it now, we can because it’s time to reflect, our season is over, I certainly say there’s a lot to this. So much more to it than I thought it would be. Experience is everything. This guy [Law] has been around forever, hopefully I’ll get a chance to be around a little longer and do a better job of figuring it out and all the things that go with it.


Law on takeaways from this season for next year…


One of the biggest things is the never give up attitude. Some guys we gave up a lead but we would always fight back, even the last time we played the Cannons a couple weeks ago. We’re up, it’s a close game, they went on a little run, we came back and made it a close game at the end. I think it’s tough when you go down in those moments, and you keep losing, losing can be contagious at times. You get that feeling like oh no, here it comes again. I never felt that. Never felt that in our team, never felt that in our huddles. Guys still had the belief that this team can get it done. And that’s tough to do sometimes in sports. We have some pretty incredible players and pretty incredible people on this team. That’s the last time that that group is going to be together in that room. It’s going to be a new team next year. Who knows what that’s going to look like, things change from year to year. But like I said I’m proud of this team. There’s only one team that’s happy at the end of the year. Just wish it was us. But it’s been so fun and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this Atlas team from the get go with Jake Richard, Tucker Durkin, Trevor Baptiste, Jack Concannon. We’ve been through the ringer, every type of emotion you could possibly have, so those guys mean a lot to me, to the Atlas program, and the culture that’s been set there. So it’s been a wild ride, I wish we could have came out on top and been the last one standing, but it’s professional sports so we’ve got to find a way to get better next year.


Coach Pressler on the rookies and the play of Xander Dickson…


Xander has gotten better. He makes some incredible plays without the ball. His feel for the game, for a rookie, is off the chart. His lacrosse IQ. That play, that check he made in front of the goal on the goalie and found a way to backhand that thing in, he’s amazing. But all those rookies. It was great to have Gavin Adler back, missing him the last three weeks hurt. But that’s the foundation for the future, our first draft class. Add Payton Rezanka who’s nursing a torn labrum, so the future for us looks very bright.


Coach Pressler on a plan for the offseason and vision for the team…


I want to think that through. I haven’t really got there yet. It’s got to be a lot of thought, lot of film, lot of talking to the coaches, exit interviews with the guys, each one on the 25. Looking at who’s going to be out there in free agents for the future that we can add to this team to make it better. So the coaching hat is sort of over for the season, and you put the GM hat on and evaluate. Personnel, scheme, how you’re doing it, who you’re doing it with, and how you can be better in both those areas. Scheme and personnel. That’s going to be my job, Kevin Unterstein’s, and Steven Brooks as the offseason kicks in.


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