MLL Championship: Select Quotes

By: Lena Welch, March 18, 2016

MLL Championship: Select Quotes

Select quotes from Major League Lacrosse Championship Game

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fifth Third Bank Stadium – Kennesaw, Ga.

Denver Head Coach B.J. O’Hara

Opening Statement: “What a game. What a showcase for Major League Lacrosse. The two top teams in the league in a one-goal battle. I don’t think you could have drawn it up any better. Just a beautiful night.”

On being the only coach to win the MLL Championship with two teams: “That means I’m old. I’ve been around a while. I’m so happy for the Denver Outlaws organization. They do it right. I appreciate the confidence they had in me to take over this year. I inherited a great bunch of guys that were dedicated from day one to getting themselves to this game and hopefully get ourselves a trophy, and that’s exactly what they did.”

On John Grant, Jr.: “Well, that’s why we brought him to Denver in the offseason. He’s 5-5 now in MLL Championship games. Didn’t look so good there for a while – his record was going to stay. But he led the way on the offensive end, and then we had great performances at the other end by a really good defensive group and our goalkeeper. Anthony Kelly played on one leg and won us a lot of faceoffs. That’s what was able to get us back in the game was we had some possessions.”

On Denver’s comeback: “That wasn’t the game plan to get down early, I guarantee you that. We started to settle down a little bit on offense. We threw the ball away a lot early, and I think every time we turned it over in the first quarter it led to a goal at the other end. So we tried to make our possessions last a little longer, get everybody involved. We still had a little trouble getting it past John Galloway. He played a great game, and finally we had his number at the end and hit some big shots.”

On the two-point goal: “Some people who don’t know the MLL scoff at that [two-point] rule, but that’s what it can do. Such an exciting play. Jeremy Sieverts leads the league in that effort, and we’ve become used to seeing him do that. That was a huge one. Boy that was a huge one.”

Denver Attackman John Grant, Jr.

On being MVP in back-to-back Championships: “That doesn’t matter. I really wanted to help this team win. They deserve it. They’ve been so close for so many years and to finally get over that hump is something special for Mr. Bowlen all the way down to the guys who help with the towels. So this is a real big pivotal moment for this organization. And I hope there’s more to come from the Outlaws.”

On his performance: “I think I was playing pretty poorly in the first half. A lot of behind-the-backs that weren’t going in, and I was holding the ball a lot. At certain times I felt like I had a chance to help this team, and I’ve been here before, just used my experience. I tried to get the team rallying a bit. But what can I say? Our team stepped it up in the second half. Big plays from a lot of guys tonight, and we needed every man on this one. So it was a big win for us.”

On playing in Atlanta: “I’ve been playing since the very beginning of this league and this is one of the best venues I’ve ever played in. As far as the turf and the fans, it was almost like this place was built for a game like this. Two great teams played a great game, and these fans were on top of it. It was awesome. I’m glad I was here for it.”

Denver Goalie Jesse Schwartzman

On winning the Championship: “It means the world. We did this for Mr. Bowlen who is back home battling illness. He’s a tremendous owner. It’s a first-class organization from top to bottom. Unfortunately it took us eight years to do it, but it’s worth it, and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of this team. We fought all game, and we were down all game. Just the resilience and the confidence we have in each other. We stuck the course, and we won.”

Rochester Head Coach Tim Soudan

Opening Statement: “Well, I think we played pretty solid all game. The problem in the MLL is there’s that ebb and flow of the momentum, and when we’re up 10-6 at one point there, and they start coming back, we answer, so we started feeling good about it again. The tough part ends up being they’re feeling really good about themselves because of the momentum going into the last minute of the game. It was kind of tough. But John Grant, Jr. just turned it on. They scored in a lot of different ways, and that two-pointer broke his back.”

On what he will tell his team: “I’m just going to tell them it was a great year, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”

On Rochester’s future: “Well, I think we’ve got a bright future. I think we’re a team with the core guys that we have, and we’re going to be able to stay established in this league. It really comes down to culture, and each team is different every year based on retirement and work and everything else that goes on. We’re just going to try to get better, and most importantly I love these guys, and it was a heck of a year to be involved with, and like I said, I wouldn’t trade these guys for nothing.”

Rochester Goalie John Galloway

On the Championship: “I think offensively they did a great job using the picks behind the cage. And on offense for us, I think we got a little impatient, and those two things cost us in the fourth quarter.”

On the season: “Most fun I’ve ever had with a team like this. I think we came together. I didn’t think you’d have this kind of experience at the professional level, and we do with a group of guys like this. I just can’t wait to get back and get started in April next year.”

Rochester Attackman Kevin Leveille

On Denver’s performance: “Obviously they’re a great team. They’re not going to let anything slip. They’re not going to give up till the end. It just comes down to, looking back, probably a lot of little things we did wrong. I think we were right there, and it just comes down to hitting shots, ground balls, and saves. Somewhere along the line they got one-up on us, and that was it.”

On the season: “Coach said it best. He said, ‘I’d rather be a loser on this side of the game than that side.’ I think at the end of the day it comes down to the journey. It’s kind of like climbing a mountain. It’s not about getting to the top and getting a view. It’s about the process, getting up there. All the hard work that it takes, and all you learn about yourself and everyone around you, when you’re doing that. I think that’s what we had this year. We had a good team, a solid team, a family, a brotherhood. At the end of the day, there’s wins and losses. If you don’t have that kind of brotherhood, it’s really not the same.”

On the future of Rochester: “A great future. You look at the guys that we’re not dressing for this game, and it’s a great group. Mark Matthews, Ty Thompson, Mike Tota, Kyle Denhoff, the list goes on. I think they’ll be in great shape, and they’ll continue on really well.”

MLL Founder Jake Steinfeld

On the MLL Championship: “First of all, two great teams. Rochester played their hearts out. Tim Soudan was amazing as a coach. It was amazing to see Denver down the entire game after 1-0, come back. It just gives kudos to what this league is all about, man. These guys played for everything – every minute, every second.”

On the future of the MLL: “The future’s looking very bright, man. Very bright. Very bright here in Atlanta. You see the fans. They get it. They love it. Very few times I’m speechless, but my hands are shaking.”

MLL Commissioner David Gross

On the MLL Championship: “This was an incredible experience. The fans here in Atlanta really made it for both teams. It was electric. We’ve got to find a way to get a team here.”

On the season: “I think it’s the best season we’ve ever had in MLL. The games were just like the Championship game, all nail-biters.”