Navy's offense has flourished over the last several seasons and one of the biggest reasons is 11th-year Navy assistant coach John Tillman. Now in his sixth season as the Mids' head assistant coach, Tillman's focus is on Navy's entire offensive game plan.
Last spring, Navy produced two of the top scorers in the country, while All-American and Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Jon Birsner was perhaps the best feeder in the game. Birsner averaged better than 3.6 points per contest, including 2.4 assists per game which ranked third in the country. As a team, the Mids were ranked No. 29 in scoring offense, firing in 9.07 goals per game. Navy hit the double-digit goal mark in five contests, including 11 against 14th-ranked North Carolina.
In 2005, the Mids outscored their opponents, 157-106, with more than 70 goals scored by Navy's corps of All-Americans, including first-teamer Graham Gill who produced 19. Navy concluded the season owning a +3.19 scoring margin which was ranked sixth nationally.
The Mids finished the 2004 campaign ranked No. 3 nationally in scoring and topped the country in scoring margin, outscoring their foes by 5.22 per game. Navy also set the school record for most goals in a season with 221.
In 2004, Tillman began orchestrating the Mids' extra-man offense and it has been one of Navy's biggest areas of improvement. A year prior, Navy scored only five man-up goals, putting the ball in the net on just 14.3 percent of its opportunitites. In Navy's 2004 opener at Lafayette, the Mids produced five extra-man goals against the Leopards. By year's end, Navy produced 23 extra-man goals and finished ninth in the country in extra-man efficiency, winning 40.4 percent of the EMOs.
In 2005, Navy scored 21 extra-man goals, the seventh most in the country. Additionally, its 37.5 winning percent on EMOs was the 13th best in the nation. The Mids picked up right where they left off, as they recorded 19 man-up goals last spring and ranked 15th in the country, producing a goal on 33.9 percent of their chances.
Under his tutelage, Tillman has helped develop several All-Americans, including 2004 Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Ian Dingman, Joe Bossi ('04), who nearly tripled his point production in his senior campaign, Greg Conklin ('03) and Adam Borcz ('01). In 2005, Navy's entire starting midfield garnered All-America recognition, including brothers Billy and Steve Looney, who were named to the third team.
In addition to his game day duties, Tillman also serves as Navy's recruiting and scouting coordinator, and is the assistant director of the Navy lacrosse camps.
Tillman was previously commissioned into the U.S. Navy as a fleet support officer and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal. He is currently a member of the Physical Education Department at the Academy.
A 1991 graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, Tillman was a member of the school's Dean's list. He had the opportunity to play for legendary coach Richie Moran and was a member of the 1989 squad that earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. An overachieving and unselfish player, Tillman began his playing career as a goalie, but by the end of his college days, had played every position except attack for the Big Red. The experience provided Tillman with a better understanding of every position on the field and extensive knowledge of the game.
A native of Corning, N.Y., Tillman played professionally for three years for the Baltimore Thunder of the National Lacrosse League and one year for the Washington Power. While the 1997 Thunder squad won just two games, the next two years Baltimore reached the NLL Championship and Semifinals. During that time, Tillman established himself as a team leader, playing in 38-of-39 contests and was one of the league leaders in loose balls.
Tillman played for the Toyota Lacrosse Club, who won five-consecutive Southern Division Championships and made four appearances in the finals, including a world championship in 2000.
Following graduation, Tillman spent four years as an assistant coach at Ithaca College, working with former Navy standout Jeff Long. During that time, the program experienced strong growth and success, including EAA and ECAC Championships and an appearance in the 1992 Division III National Semifinals. During his five-year stay in Ithaca, Tillman also pursued his Master of Science degree as a graduate student at Ithaca.