When attackman Jared Bernhardt rejoined the team in January, there was a realization he’d only be with them for the next 4-5 months before moving onto his next chapter after college.
That realization has brought Bernhardt an added focus, while keeping him locked in on the task at hand. The heightened focus displayed by the team’s best player became infectious and now permeates throughout the 49-man roster.
“Regardless of what’s going on, Jared is a constant reminder of ‘listen I came back, I’m not going to be satisfied, I’m going to have high standards, let’s do this thing,’” head coach John Tillman said. “After he set the goals record, we were sitting in the locker room and he brought up, ‘I want the other guys to experience what I was able to experience.’”
Bernhardt’s attitude of “we’re not satisfied” has essentially become a second mantra alongside “Be the Best”, which has defined the culture Tillman has helped to instill at Maryland. It’s also emblematic of the team’s character, focused on the accomplishments of the group, rather than individual success.
“It’s really about the other guys and not about him,” Tillman said. “When your best player that is his mindset, it just rubs off on everybody else. When you have leadership and high character guys like that and they are your best players, you can point to your younger players like that’s how you want to be. That to me is the essence of being a Maryland lacrosse player.”
Maryland’s refusal to be satisfied has brought them great success, as the Terps orchestrated their first undefeated regular season since 1987. The Terps dominated the conference-only slate with only one game decided by less than three goals and an average goal margin of +6.8.
Entering postseason play, Maryland’s mindset of never being satisfied gains increasing importance with each passing game. After the conclusion of the Big Ten Tournament, each game will be win or go home regardless of Maryland’s unblemished regular season.
Postseason play will likely feature competition from outside the conference, which poses another added challenge and another reminder of that necessary infectious attitude.
“It elevates all of us so much more and we aspire to be like that, so that’s rubbed off in the DNA of this team and that never be satisfied attitude,” long stick midfielder John Geppert said of Bernhardt’s attitude. “Only playing Big Ten teams you still have a lot to prove to the outside world even though you know it’s a really good conference year in and year out.”
While Bernhardt and many of the team’s other top players have a wealth of postseason experience, the 2021 Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments will be a first for younger players like sophomore goalie Logan McNaney and freshman midfielder Eric Malever.
Both players have excelled so far in their first and second seasons on campus but following Bernhardt’s message becomes particularly important for them. That message, which has transcended the Terps’ roster, is pivotal for everyone as Bernhardt and senior attack/midfielder Anthony DeMaio are the only members of the current roster who were on the National Championship team in 2017.
“Anthony and Jared, I think are the only ones who’ve smelled that championship, we want to get there,” senior attackman Logan Wisnauskas said. “In order to get there, we can never be satisfied whether it’s a big win like last weekend or this coming weekend [potentially] winning a Big Ten Tournament.”
Entering the Big Ten Tournament, Maryland will continue to preach that same mantra of “never being satisfied,” which has been a key catalyst for its success this season. The Terps’ postseason journey begins Thursday at 5 p.m. against No. 5 seed Michigan at Panzer Stadium.
The game will air on the Big Ten Network and the winner will face either No. 2 seed Rutgers or No. 6 seed Johns Hopkins in the championship game on Saturday night at 8 p.m.