Lacrosse Report Q&A: North Carolina Midfielder Jake Matthai
By Todd McElwee
Freshman midfielder Jake Matthai and No. 5 North Carolina will take on No. 4 Denver May 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Tar Heels are riding a 10-game winning streak, but are also mired in a 20-year Final Four drought.
Matthai is a Gilman alumnus and past Tyler Campbell Lacrosse Cup winner as the Gilman MVP, Scott B. Deutschman Teammate award winner and the Peter Parrott Blanchard award winner for his cheerful helpfulness. He spoke with the Lacrosse Report before heading west to face the Pioneers.
Lacrosse Report: What has been the secret of your success during the winning streak?
Jake Matthai: The secret to our success can be attributed to our cohesiveness as a group. From seniors to freshmen, everyone is invested in helping our team get the next win. We have a diverse group of goal scorers with lots of transition threats and a defense that has weathered all types of storms. Our secret is not really a secret. It's more of a willingness to make the next play.
LR: Does the 20-year Final Four drought ever get mentioned at practice?
JM: It is never mentioned. That's not what the coaches want us thinking about. The focus is on our team and how we can make this season a special one. It may sit in the back of people's minds, but it is not a point for discussion.
LR: Why is Chapel Hill, N.C., so attractive to so many MIAA players?
JM: That's a good question. I think it is a mix of different equations, for some players have a family tie (Matthai's father, Bruce, was a midfielder at North Carolina during the 1970s), while others have grown up following UNC athletics, but mainly just a shared interest in a great education, historic school and a tremendous lacrosse program that harvests a family-oriented environment. The coaching staff here at UNC does a great job recruiting all types of players, and each member of the team is thankful for the opportunity they have to play for such a storied university.
LR: How dangerous is Denver?
JM: Denver is dangerous. There is no two ways about it. They have a unique offensive style unlike any other team. Going toe to toe with them in the preseason tells us we can play with them, but it will come down to which team has matured the most in all aspects of the game this season. Their offense will be a great test for our defense, for they will test our discipline as a unit. There is no question that coach Tierney will have this team ready, so it will come down to execution and little aspects of the game that will determine the winner. Denver will be a great challenge. We are excited for the opportunity.
Posted May 17, 2013