Eight seconds into the game, Maryland men’s lacrosse midfielder Roman Puglise dodged down the left alley and rifled a lefty-shot past High Point’s Parker Green. Puglise’s goal was the first of 23 on the day, the highest for a Terps team since February 2013. An offensive explosion, complemented by sound fundamental defense, allowed Maryland to cruise to a dominant 23-12 victory over in the 2020 season opener.
12 different Terps scored, led by the attack tandem of Logan Wisnauskas, who scored a career-high six goals, and Jared Bernhardt who scored four. Everything was clicking for Maryland offensively, in large part due to excellent ball movement and precise off-ball cuts.
“That’s been an emphasis all spring, just moving,” Wisnauskas said. “In years past we’ve kind of just stayed on the perimeter. “This year the offense is more free-flowing; it’s been nice to have that freedom.”
14 of Maryland’s 23 goals were assisted, with midfielder Bubba Fairman picking up a career-high five assists. Fairman was masterful facilitating, so too was midfielder Anthony DeMaio, contributing three assists.
“I think you saw what we’ve been seeing, I don’t think anybody cares about who gets the goal or who gets the credit,” head coach John Tillman said.
While Maryland’s movement offensively played a large part in their success, Justin Shockey also played an integral part. Shockey won 15 of his 26 faceoffs, many of which came in the second half, allowing Maryland to maintain possession. Many of his wins came cleanly on the clamp, allowing the Terps to run fast breaks and quick early offense.
“I felt like [face-offs] were a big difference in the second half, it was almost like we were able to get a goal, get the ball again,” Tillman said.
Early offense was a consistent theme throughout the game for Maryland, set up by a three-goal burst within the first four minutes. Jack Brennan scored the first two goals of his collegiate career on feeds from Fairman, displaying his ability as an outside shooting threat.
“We had a lot of great structure early in the possessions, we were organized and we were communicating,” Fairman said of the team’s success in the early offense.
As the first quarter progressed, High Point mounted a comeback, cutting the deficit to 3-2. Sophomore Hunter Vines and freshman Tyler Hendrycks displayed their quickness and precise shot-making to bring the Panthers back.
In the second, both teams hit their stride offensively with a combined 11 goals and eight lead changes. After Hendyrcks tied the score less than two minutes in, Bernhardt displayed his elite athleticism and dodging ability by firing a shot far side to beat Queen.
Shortly after, Ben Baker and Vines scored back-to-back goals to give the Panthers their first lead of the day. Just when Maryland needed it most, Shockey won a pivotal face-off, which set up Puglise for the tying goal.
With the score tied up at 5 each, both teams scored twice, setting up a pivotal final five minutes of the first half. With 3:32 remaining, Maryland retook the lead 8-7 on arguably their best offensive possession of the game. The Terps worked the ball around, leading to an impressive finish from DeMaio, making the Panthers pay for not rotating fast enough.
Less than two minutes later, Wisnauskas extended the lead to 9-7 on a pass from freshman Daniel Maltz. Wisnauskas buried the shot into a wide open net, after Queen left the cage to scoop up a ground ball, the final goal of a chaotic first half.
Up by two entering the second-half with 52 seconds of carry-over penalty-time, Maryland’s executed at an even higher level. Similar to the first half, the Terps scored three goals in the opening four minutes. Maltz, Wisnauskas and Bernhardt each scored on passes from DeMaio, the leading orchestrator of Maryland’s offense to begin the second half.
Just when it seemed Maryland was comfortably ahead, High Point bounced back with a pair of goals to cut the deficit to 12-9 with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter. Sensing a comeback, Maryland responded with a run of their own. Over an eight minute stretch, the Terps scored six unanswered goals from five different players, leaving the Panthers with no answers defensively.
While Maryland’s offense was firing on all cylinders throughout, the Terps defense did an excellent job containing junior attackman Asher Nolting– one of the best in the country. Sophomore Brett Makar matched up with Nolting and played extremely physical, while the Terps other defenders did an excellent job providing help when needed.
“I thought Brett did a great job, I thought [Maryland] did a great job of winning the one-one-matchup,” High Point head coach Jon Torpey said. “I thought they did a great job of sending help.”
As the final whistle blew, Maryland sprinted from the bench to congratulate sophomore Chris Brandau on his first career win as a Terp, putting the finishing touches on an exciting season opener in College Park.
“To get a win against a really good team at this time of year, is just a great way to start,” Tillman said.