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In The Crease: featuring Boston Cannons Faceoff Specialist, Mike Orefice

December 30, 2018

How did you get introduced to lacrosse?

I first started playing lacrosse when I was in 4th grade. My youth football coach was also the lacrosse coach and he demanded me to start playing lacrosse. It’s kind of a funny story because he was basically recruiting me from 4th grade to attend the private high school in town, Iona Prep, where he was the head varsity coach.


Growing up were you a multi-sport athlete or focus strictly on lacrosse?

I played the basic sports growing up, as I got older it became more serious and I decided to commit my full attention to lacrosse. I just enjoyed everything about the sport and the commitment it took.


Where did you attend High School?

From the first day of lacrosse I basically was told from day one that Iona Prep was where I would attend high school. It was the best decision I made for myself, it made me the person I am today.


Growing up who was your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspirations on the lacrosse field were guys who got me to where I am today. Alex Smith and Chris Eck were the first guys to basically taught my how to face off. At the time they was the best of the best and I would beg my parents to drive me down to Baltimore or to Connecticut just to attend one of their clinics. Matt Schomburg is another guy who helped me take my game to the next level. He pretty much made me the player I am today and I still keep in touch with him as much as possible. We are always bouncing crazy new ideas for drills off one another.


What does the first 90 mins of your day look like?

My mornings are very particulate, I am a very early person so I usually wake up around 7:30 am, make my oatmeal with banana and peanut butter and sit at my desk to plan my lift and workout for the day.


What’s your career outside of the sport?

Outside of lacrosse, I am founder of The Face Off Lab, a speed and agility face off specific training company located in NY.


What’s your current stick setup?

My current set up is the duel 2 strung up by @PonchoStrings


How do you tape your sticks for faceoffs?

I’ve pretty much bounced back and forth my entire collegiate career with how I tape my sticks. My first two years I taped my sticks  from top to bottom. It made my set up pretty heavy but it got the job done. As I started to push transition more, I went back to the classic 6 inch throat tape to a half taped shaft.


What would we find in your gear bag?

My gear bag is crucial to my game day. I always carry an orange band to help stretch my hips, my gear and my beats headphones so I can just stretch and focus up on my opponent.


Why did you choose #24

My entire career I was #4 in every sport. When I got to Loyola, for me it was a fresh new start and I wanted be the “2nd number 4.” It sounds weird now but at the time it was something that mentally pushed me to be the best version of myself I could be.


Why did you choose Loyola? Were there other offers in the mix?

I had a ton of offers from big schools, at the time my HS teammate was also committed to Loyola and I wanted to try and go somewhere where I had home friends but wasn't a flight away. Loyola fit that motive and I never looked back.


What’s one important thing the Loyola men’s lacrosse program has taught you?

Embrace the grind. It’s simple and can be applied to every aspect of life. Look to the man to your left and the man to your right and demand they put out the work. It’s a philosophy I try and embrace every day.


What’s your favorite Coach Toomey quote?

Coach Toomey was famous for his game day speeches, but the best quote from my 4 years at Loyola was from our 2015 - 2016 offensive coordinator Ryan Moran. During a practice, I turned the ball over during a transition drill, Coach Moran stopped the entire drill to yell, “This is not inner city lacrosse, get off the field!” Obviously there were some other words in there but Coach Moran motivated my everyday to just prove him wrong about the type of player I am. I tell everyone I meet how much I loved playing for that guy.


Can you describe winning your very first collegiate faceoff?

When I won my first college faceoff, I came down the field and shot the ball missing the cage by about 10 yards. That basically was a sign that from that moment on that I was the guy to just shoot every time I had the ball.


Who was your toughest opponent last year?

Toughest opponent was definitely Duke. That game is always such an amazing venue for the schools and both programs. The history behind that game is something we really harp on all week preparing for it. Two fast pace heavy hitting teams, that always give a hard 60 minutes.


What are your thoughts on the 60 second shot clock and crease dive coming into NCAA play? How will this change the game?

Honestly, I didn't even give it a thought when I first heard about it. At Loyola, we timed every single drill from line drills to picking up the balls. It was just something we preached and used on every situational drill. The boys in green and grey will be just fine with that new rule change, I can guarantee.


What’s one personal goal and one overall team goal for the 2019 MLL season with Boston Cannons?

My personal goal is to catch Alex Smith’s records in the MLL. When I was a kid he used to tell me that I would never catch any of his numbers and it has been an absolute mission of mine to be able to say I was the person to do it. For the 2019 MLL season my goal as a team is to bring a championship back to Boston and help grow the league, sport and culture as much as I possibly can. I love this sport and the opportunities it has given me.


Thoughts on the PLL (Premier Lacrosse League)? Is this a league you will be considering in the future?

When I first heard about the PLL, it was pretty concerning knowing such a small sport was going to create more division. I am confident that group of guys will help grow the sport and it can only benefit both leagues in the end. I’m excited to see the direction the sport takes. For now, I’m focused on being Boston Cannon and winning an MLL Championship.



Compare yourself to an athlete from a different sport. How are you similar?

If I had to chose one athlete from another sport, it would have to be Russell Westbrook. He plays with so much passion and brings energy everytime he touches the ball. I try to emulate his style of play as much as possible.


What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a faceoff man looking to be successful at the X?

The most important advice I can give is to work on being a lacrosse player first, then a faceoff guy. The position is changing and its important be able to actually play not just faceoff.


How did Faceoff Lab start?

I started the Face Off Lab because I was tired of the identity of the position. When you think of a face off guy, you think quick hands, slow feet, unathletic and can’t shoot. I was literally none of those things. The position is changing and I want to be at the forefront of the change. I want to recreate the position.


What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction and why?

Winning my first Patriot League Championship will always be very important to me. At Loyola, we held ourselves to such a high standard, but for me, finally winning something and being able to be a part of that team was an amazing experience. Playing in my very first Final Four was also a huge accomplishment for me. As a kid I dreamed about being on that field one day and having the opportunity to actually do it was something I will always remember. The toughest moment in my life was not being drafted in the MLL Collegiate Draft. To some people it wasn't a big deal, or they didn't care if they got picked, but for me playing professional lacrosse was a lifelong dream of mine. When I sat there and watched as other guys got picked up, it left a really bad taste in my mouth, it made me work harder and have a purpose to prove people wrong.


How do you handle stress and pressure?

If you ask anyone who knows me, I am one of the happiest guys they know. But when I hit the field I completely change. I love the pressure of being the difference maker on the field. That is really why I love what I do, the position can win or lose you games and I love it.


What does your weekly workout regimen consists of?

I have agility workouts every Tuesday & Thursday with a buddy who helps prepare guys for their NFL Combine and Pro Days. I workout twice everyday starting with weight training, followed with face-off work.


What’s a workout every athlete should be doing (but which few are)?

The most underrated action would have to be hip bridges. Your hips control everything in the body. If your hips are tight, your back will tighten up, your hamstrings will tighten up and so on. I have the guys at The Face Off Lab use bands to stretch out their hips before every sessions to stay loose and comfortable.


Favorite pregame/post meal?

Favorite pre game meal is classic Chicken Parm and Pasta, been a firm believer in carb loading before games. Don’t try and change my mind!


What are your favorite faceoff drills?

My favorite face off drill is one hand hammer punches. It forces you to get the snap and right hand rotation over the ball.


Best way to increase hand speed and reaction time?

The best way to improve hand speed is a bit silly but for me it worked. I used to walk around campus for a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball and practice dropping and catching it in my hand.


What motivates you to get up everyday and get better?

I am motivated by the people who constantly tell me Lacrosse is not a job. Lacrosse to me is my life, I am going to succeed no matter what because I have the passion and drive to commit myself to it. People who tell me different just motivate me to be more successful.


What are the top 3 songs in your pregame playlist?

Never Recover - Lil Baby/Drake

Sicko Mode - Travis Scott (Skrillex Remix)

KillShot - Eminem


What’s one thing most would be surprised to know about Mikey Orefice?

In my off time I am a Drone nerd, I fly drones for companies looking to get images of unsafe construction sites or energy sensitive infrastructures.


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