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One on One with Robert Morris Assistant Men’s Lacrosse Coach Brandon Mangan

The Robert Morris Men’s Lacrosse team did the improbable;  They won eight games in a row, including two in the NEC Tournament, to clinch a NEC title and an automatic bid into the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament.  The Colonials started the season off 1-7 but were able to rally off eight in a row, including wins over Lehigh in the regular season and Mount St. Mary’s and Hobart in the NEC Tournament.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of their assistant coaches, Brandon Mangan, on the success of the program after a tough start to the season and their upcoming matchup with Virginia in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. They face the Cavaliers in Charlottesville on Saturday night at 7:30 PM.  Mangan is a Long Island native (Wantagh, NY) and played college lacrosse at Yale University.  He is currently a member of the Atlanta Blaze of the MLL.


On the rough 1-7 start to the season

“Yeah it was definitely tough but it wasn’t like we weren’t playing well.  It was just a lot of little things that needed to be fixed.  Our first game against Penn State (a 27-10 loss) wasn’t nearly as bad as the score looked.  It wasn’t like we went there and got blown out.  We played a pretty good game.  We knew they were going to be good and as you see they were the #1 overall seed.”

“Even when we were losing we knew we had a good team.  We just needed to work on our ground balls and some other small stuff.  We kept the spirits high throughout and played loose always.”

On the quick turnaround

“Our coaches had a meeting and the team came in and on the whiteboard was a big 1-7.  Our Head Coach (Andrew McMinn) told the team that we can either finish 1-13 or 7-7.  The players chose what they wanted to do for the rest of the season.  We just kept rallying off wins because we never worried about the scoreboard or our record.”

“The positive attitude all started with our senior leadership.  If your seniors are checking out, the rest of the team with follow.  If they’re continuing to work and do everything the right way, good things will come.  Our seniors made sure that we took it one step at a time and didn’t worry about the scoreboard.  We kept things loose each game and that’s kind of how we’ve done it all year.”

On their ‘Dead Soldiers Fighting’ attitude

“Part of our turnaround came from us adopting the ‘Dead Soliders Fighting’ credo.  We took it one game at a time and didn’t worry about winning or losing.  The whole point of ‘Dead Soldiers Fighting’ is that they didn’t worry about war or winning or losing.”

“They worried about staying alive and they just had fun with it.  They turned into ‘Dead Soldiers Fighting’ because they let everything else go and just had fun trying to survive.  They knew they could die at any moment and they just kept pushing through.”

On winning the NEC Tournament

“We knew we had a good thing going heading into the tournament.  We weren’t afforded the same opportunity as some other teams where they can coast into the tournament.  We had a tournament mentality each and every game.  We couldn’t afford to lose and we just kept winning.”

“We took it one game at a time and had really close games against Mount St. Mary’s and Hobart.  Even when we were down in the fourth quarter in the championship, we got into the huddle and I’ve never seen a team so confident when losing.  I had a great deal of confidence that we were going to win the game and make it to the tournament.”

On preparing for an NCAA Tournament game as a coach

“We all have to do our homework obviously.  There is so much talent on each and every team.  There are only 72 programs so the difference between each program isn’t all that big.  It’s all about adjusting to the little things and taking advantage of small differences that do exist.”

“We have a great coaching staff and we all work together as a team.  We have really good communication and that’s half the battle.  Coach McMinn does a great job at preparing the team and getting us all ready for our games.”

On their upcoming game at Virginia

“They’re a great team and we’re ready for a great battle.  We play very similar styles but we think we have an advantage on the ground balls and in net.  We have one of the best goaltenders in the world and he’s been incredible for us.  Unfortunately he was hurt last year and didn’t get a chance to play in the tournament so he’s ready for his first opportunity.”

“It’s such a great place to play.  The grass is so green and it’s a great atmosphere for lacrosse.  We’re looking forward to proving people wrong again.  It feels like we’re playing with house money but we also don’t want to just be one and done.  We’re aiming for a championship.”

On his first year at Robert Morris

“Oh it’s been fantastic.  Everyone here is great from the coaching staff down to every player.  Pittsburgh is a very cool town and the school is an incredible place to be.  We have state-of-the-art everything and it’s been a great experience so far.”

“My job is a little bit different from what I’ve been doing but I’ve adapted well and I think as a team we’ve done a great job at coming together as a team especially during times of adversity.”


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