Aug. 21, 2014
WATCH: Turri Highlights
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army lacrosse assistant coach Justin Turri and the Rochester Rattlers will play for the Major League Lacrosse championship on Saturday at Fifth Third Bank on the campus of Kennesaw State University.
The MLL Championship Game will face off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network and in 175 U.S. territories including U.S. military installations, U.S. embassies and U.S. consulates, via the American Forces Network.
Turri and the Rattlers reached the final after defeating the Ohio Machine, 15-11, in the first semifinal last Saturday. Veteran attackman Kevin Leveille scored six goals leading the Rattlers to victory. Turri was held to one goal by the Machine, but he dished out two assists, both to Leveille. He finished the season as the Rattlers' best scorer with 34 points on 19 goals and 13 assists and two of his 19 scores were two-point tallies.
For that performance, Turri was named the Warrior Lacrosse Most Improved Player for the 2014 season. He entered this season with 24 career points with two teams over his first two years in the league. He improved his scoring by 10 goals after netting nine in the 2013 season.
Turri thanks his teammates for his success in 2014 and admits the team connection has made it fun.
"I can't help but solely look at this season from a team perspective, and it's been by far my most enjoyable in the MLL," Turri said. "The success we've had to date has really been a product of how much we all enjoy coming together every weekend as a team and being around each other. The chemistry present throughout our locker room is something I have yet to see in my time in the MLL, and it's what has formed our team identity and style of play that has led to our success."
On the field, the chemistry continues with game plan of sharing the ball and getting it done on defense.
"We have been great when we have shared the ball offensively, helped one another defensively, and been tenacious in all of the effort and attitude plays that occur during a game," Turri said. "We have been playing with an attitude that nothing is being given to us and it is our job to take it, and I think that has made us a dangerous team up until this point."
This weekend won't be Turri's first experience in a title as he won the 2010 NCAA National Championship at Duke. He was a four-year starter at the midfield for the Blue Devils and was a United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse All-American twice. He was a two-year captain with Duke and had 29 career points in four NCAA Tournament appearances.
"Going into the MLL Championship this weekend, I can't help but to refer to that NCAA Championship experience in my preparation because of the success we had at Duke," Turri said. "This is an opportunity to win at the highest level in our sport, something that not many people can say they have the chance to do. I can't say the feelings are exactly the same as in 2010, but they're not too far off."
He says the NCAA games offered a unique experience and to compare the two is difficult.
"An NCAA Championship is unique because of the time and effort and relationships you have built with everyone in the program over months and years," Turri added. "So it's tough to compare the two and having that culminate in the highest achievement in collegiate athletics is something that I will never truly be able to duplicate. You're playing for the institution and the alumni that have gone through the program and built it and lasty for your extended, "family," is very special."
The opponent for the Rattlers is very familiar for Turri. He played the 2013 season for the Denver Outlaws and saw action in 15 games, including one playoff contest. He tallied nine goals and four assists for Denver in his one season and had one shot in the lone playoff game.
Turri says he has a little advantage in knowing the Outlaws and the way they play. However, once they get out on the field, the challenge is not going to be any easier. Denver only finished one game behind Rochester in the regular-season standings and the squads have met 10 times in league history and the series is even at 5-5.
"Having played for the Outlaws last year I have a little bit of an insight into some of the players and styles of play, but it isn't going to make this weekend any less of a challenge," Turri said. "They're playing great right now, and I expect a fast, physical, up and down game. They have a strong transition game and a very unselfish offense. It's going to take a complete team effort to come out on top."
Rochester and Denver have only met once in the playoffs and that was in the 2008 Championship Game in which the Rattlers, who were led by Outlaws head coach B.J. O'Hara, emerged victorious with a 16-6 final score.