Gettysburg College is back in the DIII championship for the first time since 2002. Despite one of the most impressive resumes in collegiate lacrosse with more than 300 wins, Coach Hank Janczyk will look to add NCAA Champion for the first time as a coach. Since being 2-3 on March 14, the Bullets have won 14-straight, avenging losses to Haverford, Stevenson, and potentially Cortland on Sunday.
Below are excerpts from Janczyk’s pre-championship conference call with the media.
Cortland got the better of Gettysburg last time, 14-8. What did they do successfully??
They faced off very well. They were able to play really good man-up against us. I thought that was a great thing. Their athleticism, I thought they really took advantage of that, some unsettled things. They just played very well and beat us in almost every phase of the game. The good news for us was that we didn’t get quite beaten as bad as we did against Stevenson, but we still didn’t play good lacrosse. We were still trying to figure ourselves out. But I give them all the credit, they won the faceoffs; they moved the ball well; they were good unsettled, and they played a pretty good, aggressive defense.
Was it better for you coming out of the South, to play Stevenson (12-7 win) again and avenge an earlier loss (16-6 on March 4)) than to play Salisbury, where they would be trying to avenge a regular season loss (11-10 Gettysburg on March 28)?
After we had beaten Salisbury this year and started winning some games and started to play better, you heard people in the locker room say ‘boy wouldn’t it be nice if we could get back and play some of those teams that beat us,” and we ended up playing Haverford who beat us in our league championship game at Haverford, and then we had to play Stevenson at their place to get to this thing…And our guys were saying, ‘we’d like a shot at [Stevenson].’ I’m thinking in the back of my mind, ‘be careful what you wish for,’ but you know what, we really showed up, and the kids are really believing. I’m excited. We just have to keep working on that momentum. Not talking so much about Cortland, but talking about getting better. Talking about what an opportunity it is to play them again.
Cortland caused problems in the regular season game with very active, aggressive play from their longsticks and defense. In looking at that tape, are their things there now you could exploit against an over-aggressive team?
We haven’t gone back and watched that film as of yet, but what we have done is really start preparing ourselves. Ever since those games, a lot of people have tried to do that to us. They saw the success that Stevenson and Cortland had, so when we went back to the basics we had to go back to one-on-ones every day. We had to have our middies go against longpoles everyday. We had to get better at carrying against poles. We had to get better at carrying against pressure. So that’s what we’ve been doing. So I don’t think it’s anything like we’re going to say, ‘well this kid is doing that.’ [Cortland is] good, they’re athletic, they pressure you, and we’re going to have to continue to get better handling pressure. I think that maybe one of the reasons we might have beat Stevenson is we did a whole lot better job of that the second time around than we did the first time around, but boy I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not easy, and we’re going to have to work on it hard the next couple of days, because if you can survive that pressure, after a while, kids get tired putting that kind of pressure on you. So after a while, it might be able to, and it might not, it might be able to work to your advantage if you can respect the ball, keep it in your stick, handle the pressure, and then some good things might happen for you.
That first game against Cortland was even for a while and then Cortland just opened it up and began to pull away. Are you going to be wary of momentum swings and have any special words for the team if something like that starts to happen again?
We talk about, even before this thing, in a game, it’s 60 minutes. Good things and bad things are going to happen. When the bad things happen we gotta believe…we’ll take our timeouts, we’ll make little adjustments when we can, but we gotta expect those things. We’ve got to expect people are going to have a run against us. We’re going to have a run against them; we’ve got to understand it. We’ve got to play the whole four quarters and be able to work our way through their run if they get it, and not get too excited about our run, and then try to make sure that if we have a run, continue to respect the ball and not take it for granted.
Coach Steve Beville has Cortland State back in the DIII championship for the fourth straight year, the third under his leadership. After playing Cinderella and upsetting Salisbury in 2006, the Red Dragons have fallen to the Gulls in the past two finals. While not the familiar gold and maroon, Cortland will face a Gettysburg team hungry for their first title.
Below are excerpts from Beville’s pre-championship conference call with the media.
You guys won a real defensive battle with Western New England (6-5 win), then exploded offensively against Middlebury (16-8 win). Do you take particular confidence in the fact that the team seems to respond to however the game flows?
We try to do that. That’s one of the things that we talk about, is, ‘you have to go out and really pay attention to the game and react to what’s happening on a game by game basis. We’ve won some high scoring games, and obviously something that made me happy was winning that 6-5 battle with Western New England. It showed our guys confidence that we could win in some of the low scoring games too.
Clearly Gettysburg has improved since the first time you played them. What do you expect from them on Sunday?
They’ve done a tremendous job turning things around from that little down period, but there’s a reason why many, many people picked them to win a national title or be #1 this year at the beginning of the year. They are very talented, have a lot of great athletes on both sides of the ball, good facing off, good special teams, good goal tending, so they’ve really turned it around. They’ve got a great coaching staff. I think they’re at 14 in a row now, so we’re just going to prepare the way we always do. We’re going to make sure that we do what we like to do, and take a look at that, take a look at the past three or four games from Gettysburg and try to obviously take a way some of the things that they like to do.
In the first game against Gettysburg, you guys were very aggressive, pushed the ball, and gave a lot of pressure with your longsticks. Are you going to approach this game with the same attitude, or is it a whole new gameplan, as if you are playing a whole new team?
There are certain things that every team likes to do that they are going to do every game no matter who they play. We’ve had success playing both a tight defense where we kind of packed it in a little more, and we’ve had some success with pressure. That’s where preparing for the opponent comes in. We’ll review some film over the next couple of days from Gettysburg’s past three or four games and kind of see what they’ve been doing and make the appropriate adjustments from there.
With the way you really pulled ahead and ran away with the last meeting, are you worried about over confidence or anything like that heading into Sunday?
I don’t think so. I think we’re a very young team. We’ve had a few ups and downs too. We’ve had a couple of tough losses, middle of the year some injuries, and we’ve grown from some of our tougher times…We’ve been very wary. I don’t think we’re in a position to feel like we’re going to go in and blow out anybody, particularly a team of Gettysburg’s stature who’s won 14-in-a-row. Right there that says a lot, and they’re the champs< of the Southern Region, and we’ve got no reason to be over confident, but we will be confident.
Cortland is familiar with the national championship setting in the big venues with much larger crowds than a typical DIII game. How much of a factor or advantage do you think that might be? Is not being able to hear as big of an issue as some people point out?
I think it might help a little bit, but Gettysburg’s older. They’ve been in the national semifinals a bunch of times recently. They’re battle tested. They’ve had a lot of big games against a lot of good teams. I don’t know how much of an advantage that is. We’ve only got, basically three or four guys that played in last year’s [championship] game, that had any kind of significant playing time in the past couple of years. We’re extremely young. It certainly can’t hurt us that we’ve been on that stage before, but I really don’t think it’s going to be a huge advantage for us.
Now you’ve got the big stadium with over 20 [thousand], it certainly is loud. You’ve got to try to take care of a few more things in practice building up for that game, because you’re absolutely right, it is a lot more the reaction of the players because they are not going to be able to get as much direction as they had in the past from the bench area and from the coaches.
Cortland and Gettysburg faceoff at 1 p.m. Sunday, with the DII championship following. Both games will be broadcast by CBS College Sports Network.
For a replay of the March 7 game between the Bullets and the Dragons click here