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May 27, 2017

Colin Heacock

Connor Kelly

Tim Muller

John Tillman

Boston, Massachusetts

Maryland - 9, Denver - 8

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement?

COACH TILLMAN: Obviously it goes without saying I'm really proud of our guys and excited to continue this journey on until Monday. Couldn't be, again, more proud of the effort and just the resolve our guys showed today against a great Denver team. Congrats Coach T. He is the best coach ever, and obviously they were well-prepared today. That game could have gone anybody's way. It literally was a game of inches. You look at those last two plays, which I actually thought the refs made the right call on both of them, but that's how close that game was. It's a shame that either team had to lose. Denver's kids battled, and they're certainly a talented team. I've been on that side of it, for sure.

So, again, just happy to get two more days with our players, and obviously have a huge challenge ahead of us. But we're going to try to take the next couple days here to get prepared.

Q. Tim, wanted to ask you about your match-up with Cannizzaro for a big chunk of the game, and what you tried to do and what you thought you were successful in doing?
TIM MULLER: Didn't try to do anything out of the ordinary. Just played our basic Maryland defense, fundamental, relied on the rest of the teammates to slide when I needed to, and slide to him when he had a match-up on someone else. So I guess I didn't really do anything that I haven't tried to do the rest of the year, to be honest.

Q. Tim, with the way Austin and Jon performed at the face-off, how important was it that you didn't have to play defense as much?
TIM MULLER: It was definitely pretty important. There was a point throughout that game where we had the ball on the offensive end for a huge amount of time. So by the time it got back down to us we were pretty fresh. As everyone knows, that's pretty important for everyone. So to be able to have such a good offense come down for us to feel good when they start coming down to dodge us, it was great. So Jon and Austin did a great job today on the wings.

Q. Connor, two one-goal games against Ohio State. What are the factors that makes this such a compelling match-up?
CONNOR KELLY: Yeah, they're one of the most complete teams we'll face coming out of the Big Ten. It's 1-1 right now, but we have a lot of respect for them. We're excited about that match-up, so we have a lot of prep coming up.

Q. Connor, how did you feel about the turf out there? Did you feel it impacted your play? Was there anything you'd do differently to prepare for Monday?
CONNOR KELLY: I don't think so. Obviously, Coach brought us out yesterday to test out the bounds, test out the field, and I thought everybody felt comfortable with it. So I wouldn't have any changes. It's an honor to play on this field.

Q. Colin, you were involved in two goals. One was the hockey-style goal that you scored on, and the other was an acrobatic goal you were called in the crease. Can you walk us through what happened on both of those?
COLIN HEACOCK: All week long and all season a lot of the credit goes to our scout teams, whether it's defensive scout, offense. They give us a tremendous look day-in and day-out. So those kind of situations kind of happen, and you can't think that much about what's going on. It's just the heat of the moment. I think just the scout defense all season long and putting us in these situations, they really helped us.

Q. Did you agree with the crease violation call or did you feel like you had stepped out of it and scored?
COLIN HEACOCK: I'm not too sure what really happened. It just happened so fast. But the officials did a tremendous job in our game. So I trust the decision made by the officials.

Q. Tim and Colin, you've been here championship weekend four times and this will be your third time in the National Championship game. The past two times you've lost to Denver and North Carolina overtime respectively. Knowing that this will definitely be your last game and you'll be playing against Ohio State, a Big Ten rival that you've played and, this will be your third time playing against it, what is in your mind going into Monday?
TIM MULLER: I mean, kind of for all of us, give it your all. It's the last game me and Colin and the rest of the seniors will be playing. So there is nothing really to hold back for us anymore. Just give it your all. But I don't think it's any different than the previous years. Our whole team bought in this year, and we're going to rely on everyone. It's not just for the seniors. It's for the entire team that's coming out there to play for us.

Q. Tim, how important was it to just never surrender the lead? They kept hanging around the neighborhood, but they never got in front?
TIM MULLER: I mean, it's great to have a lead the whole game. With such a great face-off guy that they have, any lead that they get, they can get the ball back and hold it. So it was great to not be able to give them the lead and for us to win some face-offs. I mean, it gives our offense a lot of confidence, it gives our defense a lot of confidence also.

Q. Connor, it seemed like in the second and maybe from the second quarter on you had a little trouble getting shots. Was there anything they were doing special that caused some confusion?
CONNOR KELLY: They've got a great defense. We have a lot of respect for them. They've got a lot of lanky guys that can get out to your hands. But we were just trying to play our team defense, and what Colin was talking about, I thought our scout did an unbelievable job just throughout the week giving us prep. That's what we base everything off is on our scout guys. Credit to those guys, but I thought we had a great game plan going in.

Q. Colin, just how emotional were those final two minutes? Your offensive play gets called off and you watch them do the same thing at the other end. How important was experience today, just being in those moments the last couple years in these type of games?
COLIN HEACOCK: Yeah, we trust our defense. Dan Morris in the cage, he was excellent today. And we had Tim Muller, Bryce Young (indiscernible). So really just on the offensive end we couldn't do much besides watch, but we had a lot of trust in our defense.

Q. I asked Coach Myers this after the first game. Playing Ohio State for the third time, does the familiarity, is that an advantage for you guys or is it just tough that you're going to get too familiar with Ohio State?
COACH TILLMAN: No, I think this week it helps both teams. To try to get comfortable and familiar with the team and get down some of maybe the schemes and personnel the way that you'd like when we're probably getting home at 7:00 o'clock. Obviously you've got tonight, and then you really only have one practice tomorrow, it's definitely helpful, again, for both teams. So, again, I don't think it's necessarily an advantage for either team. I just think it's a little bit more helpful. Obviously, sometimes when it comes down to that, it may be some of the hidden plays that really will be important like groundballs and transition, and things like that.

Q. What did Austin do to somewhat neutralize Baptiste? And how important was that to the outcome today?
COACH TILLMAN: Yeah, I think I'll answer the second one first. That to me, I think Jon and Austin collectively, that was maybe kind of the big theme for the game was those two guys hanging in there. Just talking to a lot of people, Trevor, and watching film, obviously, he's so impressive on film. But every coach I talk to, he kind of sets the tone for them. With that many extra possessions, if we couldn't hold our own and we thought maybe we could get the 40%, but we thought we were going to have to do it with a couple of different guys, and obviously with the help of the wings. Actually, I think we got close to 50, but I thought our wing play was pretty good, so I think that helped. Chris Mattes, our face-off coach, did an awesome job this week. I thought Austin was really on the whistle early, and then got a couple. Then psychologically I think that was really helpful for us, because everybody kept talking about how good he is, and he is all that. The percentages kind of bear that out.

But to get two early after he won all but one last week was like, okay, wow, okay. Then we got a goal. So we were kind of playing it from ahead. Whereas with a lot of games with them, they win a lot of face-offs early, and they're always playing from ahead. I think a lot of the credit goes to Jon and Austin, and obviously guys like Will Bonaparte and Alex Giovinco, that's our four-man unit. They like to call themselves the hog pen. I'm not sure why. But that's what they call themselves, and they're 19 years old, so I guess that's what you do. But those guys battling out and Chris working, and guys like -- Matt Neufeldt I think had six groundballs, was really good off the wing, so was Bryce. They gave us a chance.

Q. Coach, comment on Matt Rambo breaking the school record for goals in a career?
COACH TILLMAN: It's funny, I had said this when he did it, it's a credit to Matt because we've had Lacrosse and been pretty successful for a long time. We have great tradition and a lot of players, so it's a testament to Matt. Being able to stay healthy and really be consistent for four years. Then obviously his teammates doing a good job of putting him into spots.

I think Matt would tell you he's most concerned about trying to win on Monday, and that just speaks to Matt. We don't talk a lot about records and some of the awards stuff. We kind of do that after the fact. So kind of talking out of both sides of my mouth there a little bit. But it is a credit to him. Four years is a lot of hard work.

Q. How pleased were you with how deliberate you guys were able to be on offense once you got those possessions, especially since Denver was playing in much the same way? I think it finished with 25 possessions apiece.
COACH TILLMAN: When we looked at the film, and I kept going back and going back, and probably watched like nine, ten games, and every opponent was like 20. I don't think anybody was under 20. But everybody was like as low as 20, and then I think Ohio State was in the 30s. So we kept telling our guys we have to be efficient and we have to make the most of our opportunities, and then we have to stay poised and we have to be okay with the fact that we may have an opportunity and it could be six minutes. It might be a long TV timeout. Then we've got to get back into rhythm.

At times we were okay, and at times I thought we took our opportunities. I thought our shot selection wasn't great. I thought we were a little rushed. Credit Denver. I thought they played good defense. That team was really long, which sounds weird, but you get a step, and they get to your hands and they slide and they're really long. It's hard to clear your hands. So they're really rangy and they have active sticks, and just felt like we never got great flow. I felt like we shot our way out of it. Connor made a couple plays, and it was not great rhythm.

So I think that's something we'll talk about and hopefully try to do again on Monday. But we made enough plays. We knew at times we'd have to be a little bit deliberate, and at least get touches, get comfortable, that would help us and also help the defense. Because early in the game I thought it was great, then as the game went on in the second half, I felt like our defense was starting to wear down.

Q. Coach T said that it's time to bring the dive back. I'm curious what your opinion is on that rule?
COACH TILLMAN: Geez, I hadn't thought about that. I guess I'd be all for looking into it. I think the first reaction to me, and I'm not saying I wouldn't do it, I think the reason they took it out was the safety of the goalies. That would be my first thing would be worrying about that. But if the pro league does it, and they don't have injuries, and people think it's great for the game, I certainly would be part of that conversation.

Q. On Denver's final possession, what you thought they might do, and did you think they'd come back with that 12-14-23 midfield?
COACH TILLMAN: We weren't quite sure. We had a timeout in our pocket, so coming out, candidly, I asked Coach Conry, do you want me to see who is going out, and then I'll call timeout and get a sense of it? Like anybody at that point in time, we kind of talked about do we go zone? Maybe throw them out of rhythm? Or do we put the pole on somebody else, maybe shake it up?

Obviously you can always shut the short. So maybe give them something different. Coach Conry was like: Nope, we're sticking to who we are and what we're all about.

I was really impressed with our kids. They were super poised. The older guys, having the value of some older guys that you have around. They were really excited and really focused in the huddle. They were excited to go back out and play that last possession, and they weren't scared, which obviously makes you feel a little bit better. Doesn't mean it's going to work out.

But I love their disposition going out. It might be because we kind of stared down the same situation in Albany. We've been in that spot before where we had to get a stop late. We talked about having been there and knowing this is kind of the way it is. Candidly, I think Danny made just enough saves today to really help us. He didn't dominate, but I thought he made some key ones for us.

Q. You went with basically a three- or four-man face-off situation this year. Was that a product of when you had Charlie Raffa in and he got hurt down the wire? Was that a goal of recruiting now that you've got to have two or three A guys?
COACH TILLMAN: Yeah, I think most coaches would tell you the best way I can describe it, folks, is like running backs now in the NFL. It's hard to get through the whole year with just one running back. Those guys take a lot of hits, a lot of pounding, and I think face-off guys the same way. Just think about the position that they're in over and over and over again.

It's a little bit like a catcher. There is just so much stress on your body, and you're doing that all year long. You're taking contact, and you're taking hits. So I think physically getting through the year with one guy is really hard. Then with so many different guys, and you guys have seen it over the last couple weeks, Austin did better today and Jon went 3 for 6, so that was helpful, but Jon was better last week. The week before Jon struggled against Bryant and Austin struggled against Bryant. Face-offs are the trickiest thing. It's hard to figure out. Chris Mattes does such a good job for us. He obviously plays for the Florida Launch, so he's as good as there is. He understands the subtle nuances that some of us don't. Little subtle things here and there. He can see things. So that's huge for us.

But having three guys is huge. We're never afraid to put Will in, and I think you almost have to think that way when you recruit. You have to be prepared for a guy to go down, but also adjust to different styles. It is a long season, for sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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