Last year, Maryland men’s lacrosse season ended in a heartbreaking 13-12 defeat against eventual national champion Virginia in the NCAA tournament Quarterfinals. While last season’s loss stung, the Terps return a plethora of talent, on both ends of the field. Maryland is ranked No. 4 in the preseason Inside Lacrosse Poll, second highest in the Big Ten behind No. 1 Penn State.
Entering his 10th season at Maryland, head coach John Tillman has consistently defined excellence, leading the Terps to seven of the last nine Final Fours. For a program that is used to playing on championship weekend, last season’s quarterfinal loss proved disappointing.
“I think this group has been pretty inspired, they’ve been pretty focused,” Tillman said. “It’s been a very unselfish group and the leadership has been great.”
All four of Maryland’s top scorers from last season are returning, including senior attackman Jared Bernhardt, a Tewaaraton Award Finalist last season. Also, on attack, the Terps return talented junior Logan Wisnauskas who has served as a great compliment to Bernhardt — the heartbeat of Maryland’s offense. However, the Terps lost Louis Dubick to graduation, a key contributor and orchestrator of Maryland’s extra man offense.
The Terps also welcome back a lot of talent at the midfield position, highlighted by the junior trifecta of Bubba Fairman, Anthony DeMaio and Roman Puglise. Senior Russell Masci also returns for Maryland, emerging as one of the vocal leaders for the Terps. Having so much experience at both at the attack and midfield positions bodes well for Maryland, with a daunting schedule beginning on Saturday.
“Yeah I think that’s a big thing for us,” DeMaio said. “Each year you have new guys come in and fill roles, but definitely having a little bit more experience on that end of the ball gives us a little bit more leeway do some of the things and just play and be free flowing out there.”
Two of the Terps three defensive starters from last year return in sophomore Brett Makar and senior Jack Welding, with Curtis Corley now playing in the Premier Lacrosse League after graduation. Makar, a highly touted freshman last season, performed well picking up 25 groundballs, the highest by a Terps close defensemen. Despite his youth, Makar used his size and physicality to match up against some of the nation’s premier offensive players.
Returning ⅔ of their starting defense and several starters on offense, the biggest question for the Terps remains who will be the starting goalie following the graduation of Danny Dolan. Dolan, a one-year starter, was excellent last season for the Terps with 191 saves and a .515 save percentage. Tillman has several options to choose from, including junior Andrew Morris, who appeared in six games last season. Maryland also welcomes freshman Logan McNaney, the No. 22 overall recruit and second-highest ranked goalie in the 2019 recruiting class, according to Inside Lacrosse.
“[McNaney] lives for the challenge, he just never seems to get flustered,” Tillman said. “He just seems to love the big moment, when he’s out there he just seems unflappable.”
Another question mark surrounding the Terps is who their primary faceoff specialist will be. It’s an area where Maryland is still looking to improve, winning 53.8% of its faceoffs last season. Both Austin Henningsen and Wesley Janeck graduated, leaving junior Justin Shockey as the only remaining Terp who has taken a faceoff at the collegiate level. Part of an impressive recruiting class, Maryland also welcomes freshman Connor Calderone from Long Island, the No. 16 overall recruit, according to Inside Lacrosse.
Faceoffs will be extremely important on Saturday for the Terps, who open up the season against an extremely talented No. 20 High Point team. The Panthers were 13-3 last season, defeating both Duke and Virginia.
Junior Asher Nolting, one of the best attackmen in the country, was a pivotal part of why the Panthers enjoyed one of their best seasons in program history. Nolting had 92 points, showcasing his ability to impose his will on defenders attacking the net, and also the ability to facilitate to teammates when a double team comes.
Understanding High Point’s talent, the Terps will need to execute their game plan at a high level and continue to rely on their veterans to start the 2020 season with a win. Face-off is scheduled for noon at Maryland Stadium.