Mercyhurst men’s lacrosse coach Chris Ryan and Limestone coach J.B. Clarke shared their thoughts on the keys to success in their teams’ NCAA Division II semifinal matchup Saturday:
Mercyhurst coach Chris Ryan: “For us, I just think fundamentally we need to execute and we need to play good sound defense on Saturday. They are such a high-octane team with such skilled players really all over the field. They put a lot of pressure on you in all points offensively. You have to be able to play defense on these guys. They can fill the net up.
You can run scout (team practice), and you can diagram stuff up and hand out (scouting) reports. But until you see it at game speed in front of you, it’s a whole other experience especially with a team like Limestone. Again they can rotate the ball. They’re athletic. They can stretch you out by shooting from outside 12, 13 yards. Until you see that at game speed it’s pretty hard to prepare for.”
(In last Saturday’s quarterfinal win against) Lake Erie, we could have told you what kind of gum they were chewing by the time we got down to overtime. Because we haven’t played these guys, because we don’t have a whole lot of common opponents, the scouting report is going to be a little bit thinner for Saturday. I think both teams are going to have to rely on their ability to play the game a little bit more. You’re more apt to find some unfamiliar situations out on the field.
It adds another layer to the competitiveness and obviously the spontaneity of the game out there on Saturday. It’s just going to make it a heck of a lot more interesting with these two programs running into each other in such an important game. The lacrosse players are going to have to make some plays for both teams on Saturday, because there isn’t the level of (familiarity) between the two programs. You’re going to have to match up against the guy across from you and you’re going to have to play ball.”
Limestone coach J.B. Clarke: (The key is) limiting our mistakes. II think Mercyhurst is clearly one of the most disciplined teams we’ve played. They play excellent defense, and they tend not to make mistakes. Coach Ryan puts their guys in a position to be successful, and when they’re not in those positions they tend not to take chances that they shouldn’t.
They’ve played a lot of real close one-goal, two-goal games. Obviously they’ve come out on top. I guess they’re 34-1 over the last two seasons. They’re clearly not making a lot of mistakes and really limiting their opponents to taking advantage of any situations that they aren’t comfortable with. I think the discipline that Mercyhurst plays with is as big an obstacle for us as any.
- Victor Fernandes