#46 T Kiel Matisz
It did not take very long for Kiel Matisz to make a name for himself in the NLL. Last season the hulking 6-foot-5 transition player played his way onto the 2013 NLL All-Rookie Team while finishing second among all league first-years in goals (29) and assists (33).
Heading into the 2014 season, the “Moose” cashed in his rookie success for increased expectations and notoriety around the league (he was named No. 46 in IL Indoor’s list of the NLL’s top 50 players), and through two games he has not disappointed. Matisz leads the Swarm in both goals (3) and points (5), and is tied for fifth on the squad in loose balls (10). Heading into this weekend’s critical series with Philadelphia, Matisz took some time to catch up with MNSwarm.com, where he talked about his successful rookie season, learning from his teammates, and how the Swarm offense can get the wheels rolling this upcoming weekend.
Hollerud: Can you talk about how important it was for you having such a successful start to your career last year?
Matisz: It was definitely important but I attribute everything to my teammates throughout the year. I had great mentors in Callum Crawford and Ryan Benesch when he was here, and the coaching staff was comfortable with me and my game and gave me all the opportunities to be successful.
Hollerud: Entering 2014 did you set any specific goals or expectations for yourself?
Matisz: I set goals, not really related to performance or statistics, but to take more of a leadership role on the team, especially with all of the rookies this year. There’s obviously a lot of guys who have been around the league and who are much older than myself, but I am trying to hold the rookies and my class accountable. But the team goal is to win that Champion’s Cup.
Hollerud: You are coming off a team-high three-point performance at Vancouver on Saturday. How important was it for you to get your scoring touch back early on in the season?
Matisz: It is important. It’s pretty obvious that from our goalie to our defense everyone has been fantastic but our offense has been struggling. As an offensive guy and being with the offense day-in and day-out we don’t really feel the pressure but the results haven’t been there yet. From a personal standpoint it’s been good to find the back of the net but I am still expecting more from my teammates and myself to produce at a higher level.
Hollerud: Your second goal in Vancouver was a great example of your physicality and your ability to grind your way to the net. What other advantages does your size give you on the floor?
Matisz: It helps to be big in the pick-and-roll game. It helps that after I set a pick I can stretch out in the middle for a pass, or get a couple extra inches on a defender or slide out on a rebound. But I also think that my lacrosse IQ and my vision and how they help me find the right place at the right time are important. It is not necessarily always about size but it definitely helps.
Hollerud: You are an integral part of a Swarm transition corps that is stacked with talent, with MacIntosh, Suitor, Hass, Sorenson and yourself. Can you talk about what it is like to work with these player’s day-in and day-out?
Matisz: It’s awesome; I think a lot of the guys bring their own unique aspect and role to the team even though we are all transitional guys. Some of us are more defensive and some of us are more offensive, but I try to pick at each of my teammates’ brains to learn what their individual strengths are and then try to add them to my game.
Hollerud: What little things can a goal scorer do to help break out of a slump? Is it typically a mental thing or is there more to it than that?
Matisz: I know its cliché but for me it’s all about visualizing where I like to be out on the floor when I’m shooting or what kind of moves I do to put the ball in the net, so I definitely think there’s a mental aspect there, but more importantly it is about playing within your strengths and knowing what strengths you can utilize to get the ball in the net and trying to eliminate your weaknesses. I think if everyone on the offense including myself can play within our own means and roles we will have success moving forward.
Hollerud: You guys start the season with three games on the road, including playing in front of huge crowds in Rochester and Vancouver. How excited are you to come back to The Hive this Sunday and take the floor in front of your fans again?
Matisz: It’s been a tough go so far. Both of our games were the other team’s home opener and both of those teams were in the championship game last year. So this weekend it helps that Saturday it isn’t Philadelphia’s home opener, but all of the guys are really excited for Sunday and our home opener and hopefully it gives us an advantage. Looking at last year, our home record was very impressive so moving forward we are excited to be at The Hive and in our comfort zone and in front of our home fans.
Hollerud: Coach Sullivan has made it clear that you guys need a pair of wins against the Wings this weekend, what specific things do you guys need to focus on to make sure that happens?
Matisz: I would say to reiterate that from an offensive perspective, we need to play within the means of ourselves and not let the pressure get to us. Also in preparation we will be doing a lot of studying up on Philadelphia this week and resting our bodies for the first back-to-back weekend of the season. We need to be both mentally and physically prepared to have success this weekend.