Both Charley Toomey and John Tillman knew that one would be ecstatic and the other would be disappointed over the outcome of Monday’s NCAA tournament final between No. 1 seed Loyola and Maryland at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
With the Greyhounds securing a 9-3 victory, it was Toomey who felt the former and spent some time comforting Tillman, one of his best friends, who coaches the Terps.
Toomey, who has recounted the story of coming home and seeing Tillman sitting on his sofa, was expansive in his post-game comments about the conflicting emotions within him.
“We talked at the 50-yard line before the game, and it was going to be a bittersweet game for both of us,” Toomey said. “With a win, you’re so excited, but you also feel for the guy in that other locker room. I know John’s excited for me. He came up and gave me a big hug and said, ‘I’m so proud it’s you.’ Again, one of my closest friends in the game of lacrosse, a family friend, and not just a coach’s alliance. He’s a guy I’ll probably be in the car with tomorrow, driving to go [to] Long Island to start recruiting. Again, he’s just a special human being [with] the way he goes about his business with his program, the way he talks to his athletes. Those kids play awful hard for John. I think you see that on the sidelines and you see that on the field for sure. We’ve talked a lot about how we talk to our teams and we want them to play hard for the coaches. We want them to play hard for the university. Nobody does it better than John Tillman.”
Tillman was just as effusive in his praise for Toomey.
“There’s not a better person out there than Charley Toomey,” Tillman said. “His friendship has meant a lot to me long before this. I’ve had holidays where I couldn’t get home, and his wife has allowed me to be part of that and his family. That’s something that I will always appreciate. You never like to lose, and my heart bleeds for these guys. I know how much it would mean for our administration and our school and our state, but if we're not going to win it, I’m so happy for a guy that does everything the right way. That’s a first-class operation. He’s not allowed kids to play this year because they weren't doing the right thing in school. He’s given those kids the discipline and life lessons that they’re going to use for a long time, and he's stuck to his guns, even if it meant hurting his team’s ability to win games. And to have the courage to do that in a sport where sometimes people define you by wins and losses just speaks volumes to the type of person that he is.”