Joe Breschi woke up early Monday morning, hours before his North Carolina men's lacrosse team was to play top-seeded Maryland in the NCAA Division I final, wondering whether it was game time.
Staring back at him was Ray Lewis. He was on the NFL Network talking about the Ravens' 2000 run to the Super Bowl. That team had gone from wild-card berth to NFL champion. Breschi's Tar Heels had gone from unseeded to the brink of their first title since 1991.
"They ended up beating the Giants because they kicked the door down in the Super Bowl," Breschi said. "And I said, 'That's going to be you today.' "
The Greyhounds won and advanced to their first Final Four since 1998. Then they beat Notre Dame and Maryland for the program's first championship.
Maybe Lewis' most impressive lacrosse pep talk came before a loss. In 2013, he recorded a cellphone video message for the St. Paul's girls lacrosse team before its Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference final against mighty McDonogh. (His daughter, Diamond, was a student at the school.)
"Where you are now, you are supposed to be," Lewis said, according to PressBox. "Now it's up to you to complete the race. But you want to complete the race by looking each other in the eyes and ask yourself one question. What will I give up for the person that's beside me? What will I sacrifice?"
The Gators led the Eagles, winners of 90 straight games, by four early in the second half before allowing seven straight goals and fading in an 11-8 win. Maybe it didn't work because former Ravens kicker Matt Stover's daughter, Jenna, was on McDonogh.
Lewis is reportedly out at ESPN. With all that free time, he might be coming to a lacrosse team near you.