Michael Tagliaferri is a Danville native, and an All American midfielder at University of North Carolina. He spoke with Chris Rotelli, about what it was like to win a championship last season, and tips for young players on how to get to play in college.
Rotelli: What was it like winning a national championship last season?
TAGLAFERRI: It was a Dream come true. I went to final fours growing up, and as a kid, you always want to be on that field. Winning a championship was something I literally dreamed about. I still get chills when I think about it.
Rotelli: UNC had not made a final four in a long time, what made that team different than previous years?
TAGLAFERRI: The great thing about last year is we were chosen to finish last in the ACC in the pre-season pole. We had lost a big senior class the year before, with great players like Bitter and Sankey. Our team last year had no expectations, and we were the underdogs. We enjoyed playing that role, and as the season went on, and we kept winning close games, it just all seemed to keep building on itself. It became us against the world. As we kept winning, we got more confidence. Everything we we did, we did as a team. Every game it was someone different stepping up, and that made us even closer. The combination of no expectations and being the under dog, allowed us to enjoy it more and kept the pressure off. I think that helped us when we got in close games.
Rotelli: As a fan you could see the enjoyment from the team last year. It seemed like you guys were having more fun than ever before. One of the best images of the year is Coach Breschi doing the dab with the team after the quarterfinal win. Where did that come from?
TAGLAFERRI: Having no pressure helped us really have fun, and enjoy it. Coach Breschi celebrating after the wins with us, showed us it's important to enjoy those moments when you have them. You need to enjoy the success, because you work so hard for it.
Rotelli: How does this year’s team compare to last years?
TAGLAFERRI: We have a target on our backs this year, which is different than last year, but we only lost 5 guys, so the team is actually very similar. We won't be the underdogs, but now that we have been there, we probably have even more confidence. The culture from last year, and what worked well has definitely carried on. Now that we have been there, I think we want it even more.
Rotelli: You played HS lacrosse at San Ramon Valley. What's the major difference between college and HS Lacrosse?
TAGLAFERRI: In High School I thought about myself, and tried to do a lot for the team on my own. It was more 1v1 focused. Now I look at the whole unit and think about the other guys a lot more. It’s more about thinking a play ahead, making the smart play, and finding a ways to work with my teammates.
Rotelli: What did you do when you were growing up that helped you get to play at UNC?
TAGLAFERRI: I tried to do everything, and to focus on my weaknesses. I tried to shoot as much as possible, and also used my left hand as much as possible. As a middy, I played defense, faced off, and picked up ground balls. Doing everything on the lacrosse field really helped me become a more complete player, and that has helped me a ton. I also played football, basketball, and lacrosse. Playing sports non stop helped make me be a much better athlete.
Rotelli: Your younger brother Charlie is on the ADVNC SF 2021 team, and your other brother Peter is a playing at Georgetown. What similarities do you see in yourself and your brothers?
TAGLAFERRI: Competitiveness. I see the same look in their eyes when we play pick up basketball. They hate to lose and are super competitive. That’s the same fire I have too.
About Michael Tagliaferri:
Michael Tagliaferri is a senior midfielder at University of North Carolina, and Danville, CA native. He was a member of the US U-19 World Championship Team, and UNC's 2016 National Championship Team. He was 2016 Honorable Mention All American, and is 2017 pre-season All American and All ACC.
About Chris Rotelli:
Chris Rotelli is the Founder of ADVNC Lacrosse, and Head Coach at Sacred Heart Prep. He was a 3X NCAA All American, 4X MLL All Star, Tewarraton Award Recipient, and a member of the Rhode Island Lacrosse Hall of Fame.