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May 26, 2017

Jen Giles

Kali Hartshorn

Cathy Reese

Zoe Stukenberg

Boston, Massachusetts

Maryland - 20, Penn State - 10

CATHY REESE: First of all, just want to congratulate Penn State on a great season. They're a tough opponent.

And really proud of our team's effort today. These guys, we were fired up and prepared, and I thought they executed our game plan very well. So we're looking forward to getting to continue our season for a couple more days.

Q. Kali, talk a little bit about your work in the draw circle today and what went right?
KALI HARTSHORN: Yeah, so last time we played Penn State, we really lacked on the draw area of our game, so I wanted to make sure personally that I could step up and try to help the team on the draw side. I think what just went right is the team chemistry, like all my teammates were behind me 100 percent. After every goal they were like, Good job, keep going. I think that really helped me.

Q. Zoe, as good as you guys' younger corps played today, how important was experience in just knowing that you guys have been on this stage before and you could have poise and draw from those experiences from years past?
ZOE STUKENBERG: Yeah, I think that our team overall, it's awesome to see the confidence out of our younger players and maybe people who haven't been on this stage before, but I think that the poise, and like you said, kind of just the way that our juniors and seniors and sophomores -- I mean, I think our sophomores play like seniors. You would never know that Jen is a sophomore the way she carries herself on the field, and I think that rubs off. And kind of that confidence and poise in the locker room and in practice yesterday and just in the first few minutes of that game kind of rubs off. And then after five minutes everyone has been on the field, and it's a level playing field.

I think that everyone on our team does a great job of playing with confidence and just having faith in each other, and just like Kali said, I think that's the most important part.

Q. Zoe and Jen, obviously possession was considerable in your favor, especially in the first half, but how much does just the offensive balance that you guys have help, in particular today, just kind of to tear apart that defense?
JEN GILES: The balance of our offense is definitely such a major factor in scoring, and obviously coming out with a win. But I think making sure that everyone is a threat, which we focused on for this game, that everyone is moving, opening up opportunities for each other. And it doesn't matter if you start the drive, because if they send the double then we can swing it around to someone else for the goal. So just really everyone attacking and everyone having that mentality.

ZOE STUKENBERG: Yeah, when I think of just coming into the game, the balance of our offense throughout the entire season kind of takes the pressure off each individual player. We know that coming into this game, we don't need our No. 1 attacker to have seven goals to win this game, we just need everyone to just play a good game and play together. And I think that that helps in giving everyone confidence and kind of -- it helps just kind of establish a flow in the game, I guess, just knowing that you personally don't have to put the team on your back, that everyone is going to step up, everyone is going to contribute. And you know, if you miss a shot, your teammates have your back and they're going to make the next one, and I think that that contributes. I think that's one of our main assets as a team this year.

Q. Kali, you weren't a part of the team last year, but I'm sure everyone talks about it or it goes without saying, something was stolen from you guys last year. I think everyone knows that. Is that something that's fueling the fire this year? You guys are out there winning every ground ball, those draw controls were crazy. Is that something that's in the back of your mind, that loss at the end of last year?
KALI HARTSHORN: Honestly, no. We don't look at the past. We're just out here to play game by game. We're going to go game by game, and I think that's what really fuels us to keep going. We're just looking at one game, we want to get that game done with, through with. We want to win, and I think that's what we did today.

Q. Zoe, could you kind of contrast this performance with last week against Stony Brook and kind of the difference afterwards and what the week of practice was like in light of it being so close against Stony Brook?
ZOE STUKENBERG: Yeah, I mean, obviously Stony Brook gave us a great game, a close game, where the blood pressure took a little bit of a toll, but I think that we did a great job of handling the Stony Brook game with a lot of poise. And I think people played beyond their years in that game.

And I think that this week in practice, we kind of were able to be thankful and be proud of the way that we pulled that win out and just looked to execute just the little things just a little bit better. And just coming up on the better half of that 50/50 ball or just really taking your time to finish that shot or making that save. Just like all the little things that we weren't able to do with Stony Brook, we worked on this week in practice.

And I thought we did an outstanding job of executing our game plan on the field today. I thought that was something that our coaches spend so much time and effort giving us this great game plan. And at Stony Brook we kind of just threw that to the wind and did whatever we wanted, and I think that in this game I was really proud of the way that we listened to the game plan and we executed and we followed through and we kind of achieved -- we won the way that we wanted to win, and I think that that's kind of the big contrast to last weekend.

Q. Kali, you mentioned you wanted to personally step up. What did you try to do this week, trying to win draws this time around?
KALI HARTSHORN: Honestly, just heart and hustle. I just wanted to focus one draw at a time, and I think that's what really helped me go throughout the game.

Q. Jen, Zoe just said we had some players play beyond their years in the Stony Brook game. She could very well be talking about you, the way you played late in that game. And then today, obviously you had a big game today. Do you feel like you're playing kind of the best lacrosse of your career right now on this biggest stage, and why is that?
JEN GILES: Tough question. I don't know. I've not really -- I don't really think about my lacrosse in the past. I just kind of take it one step at a time.

But I think our team this year especially has helped me, and I think everyone -- like Zoe was saying earlier, there's no pressure on one player to step up and lead the team to a win. It's kind of every game, everyone contributes.

I think in high school and those kind of years, it's like -- it's not as leveled out. So now being in college and being on the team that everyone is contributing, it's really helped me and just not feel the pressure and just be excited for everyone and just celebrate every opportunity.

Q. Jen, kind of going off of that, you came off injured against Northwestern the last game of the year, and the process coming back has been a little slow. And obviously you had a big game tonight, so could you walk through that process and how it's kind of culminated in your performance tonight?
JEN GILES: Yeah, I haven't really had an injury at all until that moment, so I was sitting out a week of practice, which really sucked because I wasn't used to that. But finally getting back into it, it was just great to be back with everybody. And it took some time, I guess, to get going, but I guess just being back with everyone really got me excited. And I didn't want to take any moment for granted because obviously if anyone gets injured, you can be out and that can be your last play for the season. Really just celebrating every moment and going out there with that mentality.

Q. This doesn't really have anything to do with the game, but, Jen, I respect your swag out there. You look a little bit different than other players with the longer bike shorts. Can you tell me about where that inspiration comes from?
JEN GILES: Yeah, I wouldn't say I chose those. That's actually for my hamstring. But I guess you've got to embrace everything. At first I was a little embarrassed, but I've learned to love them. They help me play to my best ability, and I'm out there on a stage in front of a bunch of people, so you've just got to deal with the situation and try and be confident, so that's what I'm doing.

Q. Zoe, you've got the first game this year, so you don't know your opponent in the Final. What's one or two things that's within your control as a team that would help you to do if you accomplish that, to win on Sunday, that if you guys do well that you guys can control?
ZOE STUKENBERG: Yeah, I think that luckily for us, we always focus on ourselves. Going into each game, we're always focused on what we can do to play the best brand of Maryland lacrosse that we can, and I think we'll look to do that in two days.

We're all just so thankful that we have the opportunity to stay together as a team and have another game. And I think moving forward, we'll look to build off of this momentum and not kind of -- it's easy to -- after a big win, it's easy to fall into a little bit of a lull. And I think that we will do our best to kind of celebrate this and celebrate what we accomplished today because I think that what we did as a team was awesome, but I think that we still have a task at hand, and we need to stay focused and stay grounded.

And I think that we'll look to do that on Sunday and to do that in these next coming days. Whatever it takes to be ready to play your best on -- it is Sunday we're playing, right? Yeah, on Sunday, whether that's ice bathing or getting 12 hours of sleep or eating well or having a massage on your hamstring or whatever you need to do to be your absolute best, I think that our team is going to look to do that.

And Jen is a big game player, if you're looking for that. She's not going to say that about herself. But Jen is someone when the pressure is on, I know she's going to perform. It's like she relishes the pressure and it's great. I think it's awesome. I know what you were going for, but she's never going to say that about herself.

Q. To kind of build off of the question I had earlier, it seems like you guys have an identity this year that is much more balanced, that maybe there isn't a single centerpiece, fair or not. How long did it take to kind of forge that, and how much do you feel like that has been a major part of your success including today?
CATHY REESE: Sure. I think this team really bought in from the start, and that's what's been so cool about this season. There was a lot of unknowns going into the season, and there was a lot of people that questioned where Maryland would be. Does Maryland even have the talent or the ability to make it back to a Final Four?

And I think these guys really buckled down and pulled together and created that identity for themselves. These guys talked about it, too, but being very balanced on the offensive end was something that's huge for us, and it doesn't all fall on one person, that any of our -- I think we had nine or ten attackers in there.

Look at Taylor Hensh came in for us today and had four goals, you know, is really able to perform in any situation.

The same thing defensively, that we just want to remain disciplined and sharp and smart. And so these guys all bought in from the start of our season in September and have really just worked their way to get to where they are today.

Q. Meg really bounced back today after a tough game against Stony Brook. I know you're probably going to say --
CATHY REESE: That I love her? Yes, I love her. No, Meg walked off the field after Stony Brook, and she's like, I'm going to be much better next game. That's what she said.

And we're like, Okay.

And she came out today, and she's just a stud. She anchors our defense. And you guys know, anyone I've talked to about her, she's just the sweetest girl, always playing with a smile. But she anchors our defense, and she's the best goalie in the nation, and she does what she does with a smile on her face and communicates with her defense.

And she was a huge part of our success today, to go 50 percent as a team that's as dangerous as Penn State. Their offense is tough. They're tough to defend, and she came up with some crucial saves for us today.

Q. What do you see differently from her as opposed to last time against Penn State when all draws went even last time, this time much more in your favor?
CATHY REESE: Yeah, I think the thing that she won't say, it's experience. She started out as a freshman and we put her in the first game of the season and said you're taking the draw for us. We've had Taylor Cummings on it for four years.

So here she comes as a freshman, we throw her into the center of the circle and we say, Go. And she has continued to get better throughout this season. She critiques herself. She looks at what she needs to do to be the best that she can be for us.

And you know, she came off of Penn State, Madison Carter is tough in there. She's very good and she got a ton of draws herself, too.

Kali for us today balanced that out. She was huge. We went up 8-0, had like the first seven or eight draw controls and they were a big part -- a big credit to Kali for that. So she made adjustments coming off the last game.

I think the experiences she's gained throughout this season, she just keeps continuing to get better, and so that is a big part of, I think, her success.

Q. Did Meg say anything to you coming off the field today about how she's going to play on Sunday? And regardless of that, what are one or two things that from a coach you can control regardless of not knowing who your opponent is yet, but what's one or two things that you need to do well to win on Sunday?
CATHY REESE: Well, it's funny because of the end of the game was kind of a whirlwind. You win, and then everyone runs off the field because we need to clear to get the other teams on there. So it's kind of a lot going on, so haven't had a lot of time to reconnect with each of them individually.

But for us moving forward, I think Zoe answered it best. One of my main things when I talk to them is we really focus on Maryland, focus on us and our -- what do we need to do to be better, not what do we need to do to beat the team that we're facing. That game will happen and we'll get an opponent, but what do we need to do to step on the field and play the best Maryland lacrosse that we played this season.

And I thought coming off of our last game for Penn State, we didn't shoot well the last game. We did well today. Whatever we were, 20 for 34, was a lot better than last game, we were like 16 for 42. So what can we improve on moving forward? What can we tighten up on to, again, play the best brand and style of Maryland lacrosse that we can? Think about what we control and that's it. It's controlling our discipline on defense, making sure that we're doing what we need to do to stick to our defensive game plan, controlling our effort on loose balls and draw controls in the middle of the field and on offense, continuing to move for each other.

I loved the ball movement that we had today. I loved how much we were opening and creating opportunities for each other. We had -- I felt like we had a lot of assists. I don't know what the stats say. But we moved the ball really well. We created a lot of opportunities for each other, then we finished on them.

So it was a great energy. I think for us we just need to keep it going, keep our foot on the gas, keep that energy going.

I loved, also -- and this is being a little sappy, but how much fun we were having on the field. The girls had these giant smiles on their face. They're loving every moment that they have together, and I think that's important to our success, as well.

Q. Just wondering, when people look at Maryland, maybe they just see a team where everything always goes right. You guys always win games, undefeated through the regular season the last two years and pretty much the years before that. What adversity have you guys faced this season to give people kind of an inside look that things aren't always perfect and these girls are working every day to overcome something?
CATHY REESE: Well, first off, it's hard. It's hard to win games in Division I women's lacrosse is tough. To give your best every day when you go out is tough, so it's a lot of work. It's a lot of work for our coaching staff. It's a lot of work for these players, and obviously they deserve all the credit.

Like I said, they all bought in at the beginning of this season in September, and they didn't want anything to stop them. So we've been working to get better despite what you may read about the questions surrounding Maryland lacrosse. We were working to get better every day. We do. We focus on things one game at a time, looking to improve one game at a time as we started the season. We weren't talking about winning a national championship, we weren't talking about competing in a Final Four. We were talking about what do we need to do to get better today.

And so I think it is, it's easy on the outside to look in and say, oh, Maryland has it all, they do that, and that's not the case at all. We come out and we work hard, and these guys deserve so much credit for their energy, their passion, their enthusiasm and their love for the game and their love for each other.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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