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May 25, 2019

Grant Ament

Chris Sabia

Nick Spillane

Jeff Tambroni

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Yale - 21, Penn State - 17

THE MODERATOR: Now joined by Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni, student-athletes Grant Ament, Nick Spillane, and Chris Sabia. First we will have a short statement from coach, followed by questions for the student-athletes. Then we will have questions for Coach.

JEFF TAMBRONI: Congratulations to Yale, first and foremost. I thought they played a terrific game today from start to finish. Really came out and took advantage of maybe some experience and maybe a lack of preparation, and that probably falls on me.

At the same time I'm really proud of these young men, probably as proud as I've ever been, based on the way they've handled themselves from day one and the way they represent such a wonderful institution.

Q. Grant and Nick, you guys go down early. Does that say something about this team that you guys don't give up and still are able to make it interesting with that second quarter and battling onward?
NICK SPILLANE: I mean, it does speak to the character of the guys in that locker room. You know, it's not something we really expected to be down eight goals after the first quarter, but to battle back to get within a couple at halftime, it speaks to the resiliency of the guys.

That's what we're built on is, you know, gritty group of guys, and that's what I'm really proud of going out.

GRANT AMENT: I would say the same thing, you know. Offensively we're a bunch of guys that not necessarily were all highly recruited, kinda blue collar way. Just happy with without we battled back. Unfortunately we just couldn't get the ball rolling our way. Every time we seemed to score in that second half, they had an answer. Credit them. Their offense played incredible. Their defense played well.

Q. Grant, in that first quarter, 10-2, but it seemed like it was just a flurry of goals from them from the get-go. They were winning face-offs and just pushing it. What's going through your head as you're standing there helpless at the other end of the field while that's happening.
GRANT AMENT: You've got to stay the course. It's a long game, and one of our keys was continue on with the 60-minute process of the face-off process. They have one of the best face-off guys in the country, if not that will ever play in college lacrosse, but I think we have a pretty good one, too, and Gerry battled back, and we believed in him and stuck with him.

We knew the ball would eventually start rolling our way. Our defense was going to start getting stops and Colby was going to start seeing the ball. You've got to stay patient, because the moment you start tightening up your stick, that's the moment when they can start pulling ahead.

Q. Chris, in that second quarter when you guys were getting defensive stops to propel a comeback, what message was being communicated to the guys? Was there anything in particular you were focusing on?
CHRIS SABIA: We just knew we had to stay the course. Obviously that wasn't the start we wanted, but we knew if we could come together, stick to the game plan and stay the course that we would start getting stops sooner or later and kinda go from there.

Q. Chris, what can you say about Yale's offense, particularly the depth of scorers and guys who can do something?
CHRIS SABIA: It's no secret they're a very good offense. They have some very good players, but at the same time I think so do we. I'm very proud of the way the boys fought today and how we never gave up. We were down whatever it was, ten goals at one point, and we never gave up, and I'm beyond proud of all the boys for doing that.

Q. This is a difficult time to digest a season at large, but when you look at what you've done this year and your ability in this game to come back and make it a game, what does this season mean to you in terms of things you have accomplished and where you are today?
GRANT AMENT: Kind of at a loss for words just based off the fact that the season is over. But I do want to give credit to the two guys sitting next to me. This senior class, the class of 2019, they decided to just be a little bit different than we were in years past. I came in with these guys, and they just -- they created a standard in and around the locker room that was held accountable every day. That's something that I have not been on a team -- I've been on a lot of good teams. I've never been on a team quite like that.

We've definitely had our ups and downs but I would say the resiliency of the group is something that I'm most proud of, given that we never really had to see it to believe it, to get to this moment: lacrosse's biggest stage. Obviously we didn't finish the job, but incredibly proud of how they led us and how they're going to leave Penn State a lot better than they found it.

CHRIS SABIA: I just want to say, this group of guys that I've been with is the greatest group of guys I've ever been with in my life, from the players to the coaches. I'm so thankful that I had this opportunity to play with them for four years and learn so much and have this opportunity. It means the absolute world to me.

Q. Coach, what was it you told your players in the locker room after the game? What was the message?
JEFF TAMBRONI: Just proud of them. You get to this point, and we've said this to them all year, talked their identity, and I think it's important for these guys to remember that when you take the jersey off their identity goes with them, it's not left behind. They've left behind a phenomenal culture, they have fed off of Penn State and the Penn State athletics and the loyalty and commitment that this institution provides for us and for one another. I think it's important for these guys to recognize they have been built on adversity, not necessarily success.

This is a group that has had a lot of tough times, and I want them to recognize that each time they face something like that, they've gotten up and dusted themselves off and become better, and I hope in some way, shape or form they will take solace not in today's loss but for what they have helped develop. That group of seniors is going to be awesome in life, and I think that's what our coaching staff and Penn State will be most proud of, not necessarily what they do on the field but our Athletic Director says it all the time, their impact in life, so we're darn proud of them.

Q. Jeff, Grant has accomplished so much this year, ties the record for most points in a tournament and sets the record for most assists. What do you think this experience for him means in terms of what he's going to bring back to this team next year and what can you say about what he has accomplished this year?
JEFF TAMBRONI: From his sophomore year through his redshirt year, into this year, he has grown so much, not necessarily as a lacrosse player but as a teammate first and foremost and as a leader. He has mentored so many young men in that locker room. We have a young group of players, especially on the offense like TJ Malone, Cole Willard, these freshmen that came in and were certainly green and looking for somebody to look up to, and Grant put his arm around them and did a phenomenal job.

So his greatest assists through the course of the year probably happened in the locker room, the way that he prepares himself on a day-to-day basis. He lives it. It's a lifestyle for him, it's not just a game day approach. What I hope will happen is he's going to come back and continue to have an impact on this program, on and off the campus. He's phenomenal in the community, and I hope more and more young men on our team start to mimic and imitate him, because I think he's going to have a long-lasting impression on this program.

Q. Jeff, we asked the guys about that 10-2 first quarter. What was going through your mind in that period when you tried to switch things up a little bit in the face-off? Talk me through what was going through your head?
JEFF TAMBRONI: Well, I wish I had two or three more timeouts. We were out of timeouts in the first quarter so that wasn't good, and probably just didn't prepare our guys really well. I thought our guys were trying. I think the effort was there. Maybe our preparation, my preparation as a head coach, it has zero to do with anything of the staff or team, probably just went arye. There's a lot that goes into this, and I think our guys have done such a great job all year of just getting out there and just doing, just playing without really having any sense of awe about the stage or what was on the line.

I think maybe today was just one of those days where it just was bigger than us, and we didn't do a good enough job of preparing our guys to come out there and compete and play and erase the noise.

But at the same time, that's just part of it, part of a game, and you gotta give Yale credit, they were really good early, so I think part of that was just that and they had to respond after the first 15 minutes.

Q. Jeff, there was a time-out where you were very vehement but encouraging at the same time. I don't remember when it was, 11-3, 10-2, in there somewhere. What were you trying to do? Looked like maybe their eyes were glazed over a little bit, anybody who has played anything knows what that feeling is when you are getting fire bombed like that?
JEFF TAMBRONI: It was a tough moment, and it killed me to see these guys who have enjoyed two things: One, playing the sport of lacrosse and, two, playing alongside their teammates. It's been so much fun. I say that each and every week, it has been so much fun.

This has been one of the most rewarding seasons because they just enjoyed it so much. They just really weren't enjoying it. You enjoy it more when you win a lot more than when you lose, and when you're down 10-2, that's tough to enjoy, but I could just see it in their eyes, they had the weight of the world on them, instead of just going out and playing a game of lacrosse.

Maybe we made too much out of it or too little out of it but we wanted them to relax and compete and we believed if we did this over time we were going to come back and put together a decent effort. Just relax, enjoy, and try to enjoy the opportunity that you earned by playing for the last nine months.

Q. What's a year like this do for the bigger picture, longer term at Penn State lacrosse?
JEFF TAMBRONI: Good question. Maybe we won't know until another year or two years or three years. Internally, it's -- it was a phenomenal year for me as a coach and I think for Penn State lacrosse. It brought a lot of our alums back together, been on a ton of email chains of just guys reconnecting with old teammates.

We have just such a phenomenal, loyal fan base. If for nothing else maybe just bringing people together. I don't know what it's going to do for tomorrow or next year, ten years down the road, but maybe these young men, 19, 20 year old young men helped to rekindle relationships from teammates that are going to go back and last a lifetime, and those guys need to be proud of that.

On the other side, I hope it gives us little credibility in the lacrosse world as someone that can compete. Now, you gotta compete day in and day out and you gotta find a way to get over the hump in here, but I do believe this is a group that's going to stay hungry into summer and into next year, and we're going to compete -- I don't know if he will be back here, but we're going to compete at the game's highest level for years to come.

Q. How did today compare to the first Yale meeting in terms of what they did tactically, as well as how they played in terms of their intensity and the way in which they've individually gotten better?
JEFF TAMBRONI: Yeah, I would say that both teams got a lot better from the first time we played them. I don't think we made mistakes, they certainly didn't make a mistake of saying hey look, we were at this point, a one-goal game, either as a win or a loss, to say if we just did one thing, because I think both teams changed quite a bit. Both teams had young kids that were competing and playing for them that grew a lot, some lineup changes as well.

I would say it was probably similar, more than it was different than our first game. We just allowed it to get away from us just a little bit more today than we did then, and I thought offensively we had a little bit more rhythm in our first contest against them and were super efficient in the first half, which kept the score a little bit closer.

This time we just seemed to struggle offensively, struggle defensively. To Yale's credit, I thought they shared the ball well offensively, and I thought they made it challenging for our offensive guys on our offensive end, based on the way they matched up with us one-on-one.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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