NOTE: This Q&A with TD Ierlan was completed by Mike Tesoriero, but due to technical difficulties was not able to be published under his name.
TD (Tristan David) Ierlan burst on to the D-I college lacrosse scene last year as a freshman face off specialist for the UAlbany Great Danes. It truly was a welcome sight for all UAlbany fans as many have noted – that if the team had a FOGO specialist of this caliber while the Thompson’s were here, UAlbany could possibly have played for a National Championship. It was a missing link and now TD has filled that void in a big way, ensuring UAlbany’s high powered offense gets the ball more often.
In 2017, TD won 323 total face offs which was the second highest single season total in D-I history. He also scooped up 202 ground balls – 4th highest in D-1 history. TD finished the season with a 70.8% faceoff win rate, & was first with 11.2 ground balls per game. TD earned America East Rookie of the Year, was voted Inside Lacrosse Media 2nd team All-American. and received USILA 3rd team All-America honors.
TD started the 2018 season winning 16/21 face-offs (76%) vs Syracuse in the Dome on Saturday 2/17. He also had 9 ground balls & scored the go ahead goal in the 1st quarter to make it 2-1, it was a lead the Danes would never relinquish en route to their statement win of 15-3. His domination at the faceoff dot helped keep Connor Fields & Tehoka Nanticoke on the offensive, and kept the ball away from Syracuse’s offense.
Following that big opening week win, TD took some time to chat with us here at Capital District Lacrosse.
Mike Tesoriero: The Carrier Dome has been a House of Horrors for UAlbany only winning once in 15 visits despite always playing the Orange well. Last year your team lost with 1.9 seconds to play. What did this season’s opening win mean to you and your team?
TD: Opening the season with a win is always the goal. To be able to take a step forward in a place like the Carrier Dome is another positive thing we can take away from that game.
MT: At Victor High School you helped lead your lacrosse team to 2015 & 2016 New York State Championships including a perfect season 22-0 your senior year. How did those two state title runs help prepare you for the D-1 level at UAlbany?
TD: I think being able to experience that type of success in high school set me and my high school teammates up to be successful in college. We all knew the type of hard work it took to win. And that same type of hard work made the transition as easy as possible.
MT: You were also an outstanding wrestler in high school. You held the Victor high school record for career wins (206) and total falls (97). So many of a wrestler’s skills transfer over to what you do as a face off specialist, being whistle ready, having tremendous core, hand & wrist strength & being able to counter your opponent. How has being a very successful wrestler help you become a better face off specialist?
TD: I think the main thing that wrestling has helped me with in lacrosse is the mental toughness that goes with the sport. In wrestling regardless if you win or lose you will have another match, which is very similar to faceoffs.
MT: Growing up were you a lacrosse player first or a wrestler?
TD: I guess I wasn’t one or the other. I enjoyed both when it was that sport’s respective season.
MT: You were also a member the Chess Club which is kind of funny, but in all seriousness if you think about facing off in college lacrosse a lot of what you do is mentally trying to figure out your opponent. Anticipating their next move, knowing how to counter your opponent’s moves, etc. So was Chess club for you a tool to sharpen your lacrosse skills or something you just always enjoyed?
TD: Chess is just something I have always enjoyed, but I do think it has taught me how to prepare and scout opponents.
MT: Your freshman year came to an end in the quarter finals at the hand of the eventual National Champion Maryland Terps losing 18-9. You started the game out winning the first 5 faceoffs but they changed things up and ended up taking control of that game. I know it was a tough loss for you as well, but it also highly motivated you for this upcoming season. You seem to have put on some more muscle and spent more time in the weight room this off season putting on 20 lbs. What changes did you make with strength & conditioning?
TD: I feel like the biggest change in my strength and conditioning was that I was more motivated this off season. I knew I had to get bigger, so I got in the weight room as much as possible.
MT: You also had a newspaper clipping you kept highly visible to keep you motivated, tell us about how that came to be and how you used it as motivation during the off-season.
TD: Somehow a newspaper article of the game ended up on my counter at home about the quarter final game and I just tried to use it as motivation. I put it in my room, so I would see it every day and try to get better.
MT: Preparation is a big part of what you do, and you are known for having an amazing work ethic already since high school. I watched you be one of the first guys out for pre-game warmups and THE last guy off the field running through your drills at the Dome. How much time do you spend on video review each week in preparation for your next opponent? I would imagine you get pretty good scouting reports to work off and I’m sure your looking stuff up on your own as well to get any insight you can.
TD: I watch around two hours of film a day. Most of the time I watch it with my coaches and develop a game plan and we talk about our opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. But other times I try to look at myself and see how I can improve.
MT: With the FOGO position being so specialized & valuable in today’s game what advice do you have for young players looking to develop into that role?
TD: Keep playing positions other than FOGO. I think it will only make them a better FOGO if they are able to handle the ball and create offense in transition.
Catch TD and the rest of the Great Danes in action on Saturday February 24, 2018 at Noon as they host the Drexel Dragons.