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May 27, 2013

John Desko

Jojo Marasco

Brian Megill

Kevin Rice


Duke – 16
Syracuse – 10

JOHN DESKO:  Well, my congratulations go out to Duke and John Danowski.  They obviously did a great job today.  We had the early lead in the game, and we were feeling good about things, but we were smart enough to know it's a game of runs, especially with all the games we've been in, the games we've watched this year, and I told John after the game to buy his face‑off guy a big steak because he deserved one.  We just couldn't get the ball in the second half.  I think we had it just a handful‑‑ a few times in the third quarter and turned it over when we did have it.  Just too much to ask.  It's a powerful offensive team, and to play defense so much, especially in the second half of this game, we were just asking too much of our guys.
They kept putting the pressure on, and they played very patient.  They had a few more turnovers in the first half than the second half, and when they're not turning the ball over and they have all those possessions off of face‑off, it's pretty hard to try to get some kind of comeback against them.
So my congratulations go out to them once again, I told them to enjoy it.  It's a special thing they're going through right now.

Q.  Brian, you've been able to overcome the face‑off situation in the last few games, and with this being a team that's balanced enough, not just having a powerful face‑off guy but an offense and a defense, what was the communication like between you guys when in the second quarter they start to win a lot of face‑offs?
BRIAN MEGILL:  Well, you've got to give all the credit in the world to Duke.  They've been doing it all year long.  Their face off guy is something special and their offense is even more special.  We knew they were going to go on a run and we just had to try and stop the bleeding.  The first quarter I think we came out with a lot of passion.  We knew what they were going to do and we knew what we were doing all game, we just got lackadaisical in the talk.  When you lose face‑offs like you were and they score and they get the ball back, they score, they get the ball back, it's tough, it takes a toll on your body, especially when we played defense as much as we did in that third period.  We've got to try to back up our face‑off group and get our offense the ball because we know their offense is deadly with it, and we just couldn't do it today.  We've been battling that game all year long and luckily we've been able to be on the winning end of it and make it this far with going in the underdog in the face‑off position every game.  It's a real testament to this team and how we overcame adversity.

Q.  Brian, you've battled nagging injuries all season.  When you went down in the fourth quarter, was there anyway you were not coming back out on the field?

Q.  And putting you at face‑off, it's something you guys have used as a bail‑out tactic.  You started actually winning some out there.  What was working for you in particular?
BRIAN MEGILL:  I was just trying to mess everything up in the middle.  I was able to get a break a couple times and get it out to our wings.  And if I didn't get it out, I was fighting them one‑on‑one for the ground ball and having our wings lock off.  We had success.  I just wish I would have went out there two quarters earlier.

Q.  Brian, obviously not the outcome you wanted to but you have to be so proud of the guys and getting back to the Final Four and everything you guys accomplished.
BRIAN MEGILL:  Yeah, you know, like I said, this team has overcome tremendous adversity.  One of our coaches told us in the beginning of the game we were ranked preseason 19th.  We came out and we lost to Albany, we went down even further, and the amount that we've done as a group this year, as a family, as a unit, how we've all played together, we didn't have the stars like Syracuse is used to having.  We had a team.  We had a balanced team, and we used what we had very effectively and efficiently, and we did it all year long, and I'm just really proud of these guys, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Q.  JoJo, when you bagged a couple goals in the middle of the fourth quarter did it feel like the other comebacks you guys have pulled off all season long?
JOJO MARASCO:  Yeah, definitely.  We got two there, there's eight minutes left and then Brian made a nice play on the face‑off again.  We had the ball threw, we came down and threw it away.  Then they had the ball another four minutes, so it kind of hurt us there, but got those two quick ones in pretty fast, and we started rolling, got the ball again, and it just didn't go our way at the end of the game.  They're a smart team and they know where to throw the ball and are able to take a lot of time off the clock at the end.

Q.  Kevin, you guys were up 5‑0 at the beginning of that second quarter.  What was working so well and why couldn't it work later in the game?
KEVIN RICE:  Well, you know, we watched a lot of film and we knew they were pretty aggressive, so I thought our shorties were doing a pretty good job getting by their match‑ups, and once they started rotating that's our offense's bread and butter is picking apart a rotating defense.  I think we were doing that very well in the first quarter.  It's tough; possessions dried up, and when you don't have the ball for long stretches of time, you tend to force it, and we've been pretty good about that all year, but in the third quarter I think we probably had the ball two or three times, and we threw it away a couple of those times, and we really needed to be more patient when we did get it.

Q.  JoJo, it took you kind of until the fourth quarter before you personally were able to get something going offensively.  What was Duke doing, and it also looked like you played a little bit far away from the goal, maybe take their best defender out of it.  Was that accurate?
JOJO MARASCO:  Yeah, he's a very good defenseman, very good long pole, but they still had me dodging a lot in the first and second quarters, and I tried to draw the double, move behind kind of like what Kevin said and took apart the defense.  We had to move it and that's where we got a couple good shots and just tried to be unselfish and run our offense and it was working, so I just kept going with it and at the end, we had to push the ball.  I got a short stick once and another time I was behind I felt comfortable back there to make a move on their guy because he's so used to playing up top, and that was somewhat of our game plan early, and it just hurt with not having so many possessions.

Q.  JoJo, you had a late penalty with about 16 seconds left in the game.  Can you explain that, what was going through your head during that penalty?
JOJO MARASCO:  I threw a quick check and my arm was up and just kind of wrapped around him.  I gave the guy a hug after, said I didn't meant to do that.  It was no frustration.  It just happened, got caught around him and kind of just took it.  There was only 15 seconds left, and I was not trying to do anything dirty or anything, just trying to make a play and it didn't work out my way, and I would never do that in a second or third quarter in a National Championship game.  It just happened, and it maybe didn't look that good, but it's just a mistake at the end, maybe a little mental mistake.

Q.  JoJo, coming into the season not a lot of people gave credit to Syracuse to be able to have an offense that turned out to be the way that it was this year, somewhat of a machine, and like Brian said, more of a team.  Can you talk about the coaching staff and what they've done to get this team to where it was, especially in the face of a lot of criticism saying that that wasn't going to happen?
JOJO MARASCO:  Yeah, I can't say enough about Coach Desko and Coach Donahue running the offense and really putting it together, trusting our offense.  They knew that from day one that we had a very well‑rounded offense and very smart, and they really were able to work‑‑ try a lot of new things with us, and we picked up pretty fast.  I think that was a key to our success all year, and they were just, literally they knew what they had to do and we knew what we had to do when we got on that field.  Shout out scout team.  They showed up every day and gave us the opportunity to put together such a good offense.

Q.  JoJo and Brian, what do you think the legacy of your class is, and then as we go into Coach Desko, if you could talk about the group that's leaving.
BRIAN MEGILL:  You know, we turned out to be the class that went out without making it.  We're here.  That was our goal all along, take every game like it's a National Championship game because that's what the goal was all throughout the whole season.  I couldn't be more proud of the guys, and if I can just hope that we pass down one thing to the younger guys, just doing the right thing, leadership.  It's on and off the field and you know, this team exemplifies everything that we did as a unit all year long, on and off the field, in the classroom, in the community, on the lacrosse field.  We played with head, heart and hustle, and I just hope it gets passed down to these younger kids.

Q.  Just talk about the dynamic Duke offense and how difficult it is to stop when you have six guys that can all put the ball in the cage.
JOHN DESKO:  Well, they're all very talented, each in their own way, and Wolf behind is so dangerous.  You have to kind of take his man out of the slide package because as soon as you leave him, he has such a quick burst to get up to the backside, and that happened a couple times today, especially the two middies up top have big shots, a lefty and a righty, and Offit today, he really came to play, that kind of output out of their second group, that was something we thought we could have done.
But you know, I'm looking at the stats here, and we have a little bit of a lead in the first quarter, and then in the second quarter we are one for eight in face‑offs and the third quarter 0 for 7, so they had 15 possessions in the second and third quarter, and if you look at the scoring, they scored five goals in the second quarter and five goals in the third quarter.  So we couldn't get the ball to our offense, and I thought they played very patient, shot well in those quarters and showed a lot of poise.

Q.  What was going through your head when you come out on the field with Brian laying down at midfield?
JOHN DESKO:  Oh, you know, he's twisted his knee a couple times this year, so my worst fear is that he would have seriously hurt his knee, especially in his last game.  But fortunately he got back out there and was able to contribute a little bit more.  He certainly left it all out on the field today.

Q.  Dom had a big first half for you guys.  How important has he been not only for you today but the fact that you have found now this established goal tender?
JOHN DESKO:  Yes, in a lot of these games, going down the stretch, the last game included, I thought he really played solid, especially in the second half.  He not only made good saves, make some spectacular saves, some one‑on‑one saves that allowed us to be in this game today.  A couple in these playoff games could have gone in and we might have been watching today.  But fortunately we weren't, and we had the opportunity to play in this game.  I think a lot of it had to do with Dom.

Q.  What did you tell your team after the game?
JOHN DESKO:  You know, that first of all, my hat was off to Duke, and I thought they played a great game, and we have to congratulate them.  I told them that even though it stings right now, there's going to come a time where I think they'll look back at the season and everything they've done and the experience of the playoffs and being here in the National Championship game, and they'll have good memories.  Their teammates are going to be some of their best friends for the rest of their lives, and I think they'll come to understand that and they'll come to appreciate it, just it hurts and stings right now.

Q.  Early in the season you lose a high‑profile transfer in Nicky Galasso, a key defenseman in Mullins gets hurt.  You seem to have developed players this season that in a way next year there has to be some positives.  It's tough to look at that now, but can you speak about some of the players that you developed and the outlook for the coming season?
JOHN DESKO:  Well, it was a challenge because of where we were a year ago and who we graduated.  So to some people it looked like the cupboard was a little bit bare.  Then we went out and lost to Albany in the first game, and fortunately the guys didn't believe everything that was being said and didn't believe in the rankings.  I give the staff a lot of credit, the assistant coaches.  We really sat down and evaluated our players, came up with drills to help make our skills better, whether it be our shooting, our dodging, our defense, and just start with the little things and build on it, and I give a lot of credit again to not only the staff but to these guys that were up here and a lot of our senior leadership.  They really stayed focused and didn't let it get to them.  They didn't get all emotional with it, and even though we had two more losses as the year went on, I thought we kept getting better, and we went into the tournament probably having the most wins in the top 15, top 20 of anybody in the country, so I think we went into the tournament really believing in ourselves.
I give a lot of credit to this group how hard they've worked and how focused they've stayed and haven't given into the losses.

Q.  The seniors this year have obviously meant a lot to this team, especially JoJo, Brian, Lou Cometti, those guys.  What is their legacy at this school and how do you hope to replace them next year?
JOHN DESKO:  Well, I think that's what they had talked about since day one in the season, when the rankings had come out.  They talked to themselves quite a bit about their legacy, and I think that's why they worked so hard and stayed so focused all year long.  From defense to offense, guys were really sponges.  When you lose a game and then you look at the film, you tend to listen to the coaches a little more, and I think they did that well, and I think as a result they got better, and I think they saw that, the things that we were doing in practice and through film and strength and conditioning.  They saw it work, and they stayed with it, and then we got another win and another win, and I think it just gave a lot of credibility to what was going on, and as a result they drew confidence and strength from that.

Q.  What is it that you saw from Brendan Fowler that allows him to be so effective at the face‑off X?
JOHN DESKO:  Everything.  He's strong.  He has more than one technique, although we saw the one where he kind of pinch clamped it and get the ball in the back of his stick allowing him to pick it up.  But then he adjusted pretty well to what we did.  If we came in behind him he was good at trying to get the ball out to the front, turning his body, knowing that he had the ball in a spot and knowing‑‑ great awareness of where his wings are.  A couple times it looked like we came with doubles and he just kind of flipped the ball off to an area where his wings could pick it up.  Really everything.  I guess there's a reason he's a first‑team All‑American.

Q.  Throughout the season you've talked about how this has been an enjoyable group to coach.  Can you just elaborate on that because obviously as a coach there's a sting, too, and maybe one of the ways of getting past that is to look back and think this might be one of the more impressive coaching performances that we've seen, especially when you look at what the rankings were, the cupboard being bare and that kind of thing.  Regardless here you are at the National Championship level, just one win away.  Sum up what it's been like for you?
JOHN DESKO:  Very enjoyable.  I've liked being around these guys.  They all have work ethic and they're coachable, a lot of leadership there that we're hoping the other guys are going to learn from, the guys coming back.  I've just had fun, and to have‑‑ to be here and kind of work your way through the season and end up in the biggest game there is in college lacrosse has been a great reward, and like I said, I think these guys will look back at it and enjoy it, and I give a lot to credit to their ability to learn and to the staff to come up with a plan to make sure the guys got better every week and that we had good plans going against our opponents.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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