If it is May, it is NCAA Lacrosse Tournament time. Both of Salisbury University’s programs have a track record of success. The womens team recently captured the 16th Capital Athletic Conference title in school history. The Sea Gulls earned a bye in the opening round of the tournament and will host second round action Sunday May 15. 15 year head coach Jim Nestor gives his insight as Salisbury has its sights set on a third national tile in four years.
Pencek: The NCAA Tournament was revealed Sunday night. What are thoughts on this year’s brackets?
Nestor: We’re very happy with it. We think we have a good draw with the teams that are on our side. On the underside there is Franklin & Marshall and Brockport. Those are teams we likely will meet up with as we go along. Starting off, looking at the two teams that we could meet (Cabrini or Meredith). We are happy with the way things are set up.
Pencek: You just missed out on three-peat last year. Are there characteristics about this year’s team that are different from your 2013 and 2014 National Champions?
Nestor: I think offensively we are more balanced. I think two years ago we had one or two more stronger players. This year I think across the board we are more balanced. As well as defensively, overall the whole defensive unit. Two years ago we had Ashton (Wheatley) in goal and she was just one of a kind. Obviously Gi (Falcone) is doing great. That defensive unit is so solid with all seven players playing together.
Pencek: With the expectations of this program, how satisfying is it for you that you maintain that level of success, a conference championship and a high seed in the tournament?
Nestor: We have to make sure we are doing the work throughout the season to make sure we get that seed and the ability to host all the way through until the Final Four. When we talk to the girls we always talk about with those expectations it all comes with hard work. We put in the hard work day in and day out to make sure we are taking care of business on game day.
Pencek: Anything about this season that has surprised you?
Nestor: No, for this year knock on wood we have been healthy for the most part with just a few nicks and bruises. Overall, we are very pleased with how we have sustained our health throughout the season.
Pencek: Is it challenging as the head coach to be able to block out the rankings and the expectations of this program to be able to focus on each game during the season?
Nestor: When we talk about that, we know were we want to be at the end of the year, but we always talk about taking one game at a time. We really don’t look past anyone, any of our opponents. Again, if we don’t step up, if we don’t play well we could easily falter. With expectations we never look far ahead.
Pencek: Does having the Final Four in this region provide any extra motivation?
Nestor: With it being outside of Philadelphia just up the road, it is close for our fanbase. We look at being able to have the great support if we get that far, but we don’t want to look that far ahead right now.
Pencek: What are the things that you are working this week with practice?
Nestor: We already have film broken down on the potential opponents. We know what we need to be working on against the zone defense. For us it is to continue to click on that offensive end whether we are playing against a zone or a man, just make sure we are communicating better.
Pencek: During your time at Salisbury and not including the multiple National Championships, what stands out to you as a great career accomplishment?
Nestor: I and the staff we always look to get better every year and learn both from mistakes and what we do well. Hopefully making it easier for the players understand what we are trying to get out of them.
Pencek: What do you attribute to the success you have had hear at Salisbury?
Nestor: We keep things simple. People have a tendency to over complicate things at times. We don’t go anywhere without hard work. We expect that in season and out of season. That includes doing things outside of practice that we expect them to be doing. Preperation from game film to scouting reports on our end so we are fully prepared to coach the players everyday at practice.