The Yale men’s lacrosse team is coming off its most successful season in 20 years. The Bulldogs posted an 11–5 record that included a nine-game win streak, an Ivy League Tournament Championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament. The News sat down with captain Michael McCormack ’13, a defenseman from West Islip, N.Y., to discuss his lacrosse experiences and the team’s upcoming season.
Q: When did you start playing lacrosse, and what drew you to keep playing?
A: My older brother played and that initially sparked my interest because he would force me to have a catch with him. I officially started playing for my town in third grade and really fell in love with the sport. I also played baseball but then in fifth grade it became too much and I chose to stick with lacrosse.
Q: You’re not the biggest player but you chose to play defense where you will be squaring up against attackmen who many times are over six feet tall. How have you developed your game play to tackle that issue?
A: In little league, no one wanted to play defense because everyone wanted to score goals but I played defense with my brother. Being on the shorter end is a disadvantage, but one of the things that I have been able to be successful with is pushing in transition, being able to pick up ground balls and generally having good stick skills. However, because I was able to have varsity level coaches from a young age, my biggest asset is understanding the game and being able to read what’s happening in between the lines.
Q: You are from Long Island, which is a hotbed for supplying college lacrosse players. What’s it like playing with or against so many people from your area that you grew up with?
A: It’s definitely neat to see players from my community on the field. I have stayed close friends with a lot of guys I played with in high school, and in games against them it definitely adds a little local rivalry.
Q: Do you have anything to say about the freshman class?
A: They are a really good class and have already contributed in the weight room. There is a lot of offensive contribution from them but also some added defensive presence from Michael Quinn ’16 and Reilly Naton ’16. They all have good stick skills and are willing to work and learn. I believe a lot of the freshmen are going to play key roles for us this year.
Q: You have returned all of your key players on defense, but lost a few important players on offense. How have the adjustments been this year getting the new guys into the system? Do you see the team as more defensive this year?
A: I don’t think we will be a more defensive team, but I think it will be one of our strongholds this year. Offensively we have two starting attackmen coming back in Brandon Mangan ’14 and Conrad Oberbeck ’15 as well as Dylan Levings ’14 at the face-off X who will all be key for us. The freshmen have already begun to fill on offense this preseason and I expect them to be huge contributors as the season goes on.
Q: You have had a few preseason games. How have those gone and have you learned anything you might not have expected?
A: The snow storm set us back as we couldn’t practice on the turf and that definitely impacted us in the first game. However, we were able to watch film from that game and listen to what our coach had to say and drastically improve in our second game. As long as we keep communicating and being mentally tough we should be prepared for the season.
Q: What do you think this team can accomplish after the bar has been set so high from the previous year?
A: Obviously our ultimate hope is to match and overcome our previous accomplishments, and we understand we can’t be complacent because of last year’s success. Since day one in the fall, the team adopted the motto of “No shortcuts to the top” to remind ourselves of this and make sure we keep pushing ourselves to do better. We are definitely looking to go farther than we ever have before, and I think we have the talent to do so.
Q: What has been your greatest moment on the lacrosse team thus far?
A: Winning the Ivy League tournament in such decisive fashion was really special, especially as no one really expected it. Also, making it into the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years was an awesome feeling in knowing how we contributed to the history of the program. However, beating Harvard at home after being down my freshman year was a memory I will always take with me.
Q: This past summer you were drafted by the MLL Charlotte Hounds. Is playing professionally something you see yourself doing?
A: It’s not going to be my full-time profession so getting a career squared away is my first concern. I would definitely be willing to give it a shot but right now I am concentrating on my job interviews and more importantly the upcoming lacrosse season.