College Lacrosse Offseason Report: Maryland Terrapins
Every fall, each team welcomes in a new group of freshmen and assimilates them to team culture and dynamics, and instead of just going through the motions, freshmen have one of the biggest steps to make: from high school ball to college ball. Every bit of that is different. College lacrosse is faster, more time consuming, and harder work than the high school season which mainly lasts from February to May. College lacrosse starts the moment you step on campus in August, and throughout the fall, I will be highlighting not only the incoming freshmen classes for collegiate lacrosse teams in the area, but the changes that have occurred since last May when Yale took home the National Championship. It is a new year, and everyone is in the running once again.
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Although last season Maryland did not repeat as national champions, their fans should be happy with the performance of a young team that graduated a handful of playmakers from their championship team like Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock, Tim Muller, etc. As the top seed in the NCAA Tournament once again, the Terps made an appearance in Championship weekend for the fifth year in a row, and seventh in eight years under John Tillman. Last season, Maryland ranked in the top five in man up and man down percentage, and held the stat for least turnovers per game in Division 1. On the other side, the Terps need to improve their faceoff percentage, ranking 25th in Division 1, but the team was able to make up for that mark, winning many games in which faceoffs were lacking.
Despite key losses, this year will not be a rebuilding year for Maryland. Maryland graduates only two key offensive contributors in Connor Kelly (46g, 36a) and Tim Rotanz (20g, 21a). They return all three starting attackmen as well as Bubba Fairman who will assume a bigger role dodging from the midfield in 2019. Jared Bernhardt will assume Maryland’s #1 jersey, usually worn by the top offensive playmaker on each team (Connor Kelly and Matt Rambo also wore 1), and will look to improve on his campaign from a year ago after tallying 40 goals and 16 assists. Look for Bernhardt, Logan Wisnauskas, Will Snyder, Anthony Demaio and Ethan Mintzer to contribute more on offense after losing two leading points scorers from last season.
The defensive side will be more of a focus for John Tillman’s staff throughout the fall and awaiting the spring schedule. The Terps graduated Bryce Young, Michael Adler, Adam Demillo, Matt Neufeldt and goalie Dan Morris. Young returners like Cutrtis Corley, Jack Welding, Nick Brozowski Roman Puglise and Thomas O’Connell will assume most of the defensive work this spring, while the Terps will look to solidify a few more spots (especially at goalie) for this upcoming year.
As many may know, the NCAA adopted a new shot clock rule for this coming spring, as once possession is granted, a team has 80 seconds to get a shot on cage. I don’t think this will have a huge impact on Maryland but will impact their offensive style more than other teams. Maryland likes to be very methodical on offense and work to get the best shot rather than the first shot. With the clearing percentages being so high, Maryland will probably have a little over a minute to generate a shot, and including substitutions, this will be plenty of time to let the offense work. It will be interesting to see how many teams change their midfielders. They may work more conventionally and bring back two-way midfielders (this will benefit teams who can run two or three lines) or they adapt their substitution styles to more effectively run guys on and off the field. We will have to wait until February to see which way most teams go.
And while talking about the depth each team might need to adapt to the rule changes, below is Maryland’s 2019 recruiting class, of which many may become instant contributors in College Park this spring.
Kyle Long, A, Springfield-Delco (PA)
George Wilchens, A, Connetquot (NY)
Jake Smith, A/M, Avon Grove (PA)
Josh Cofman, M, Severna Park (MD)
John Geppert, M, Landon (MD)
Zach Green, M, Calvert Hall (MD)
Will Plansky, M, St. Sebastians (MA)
Dean Draughn, M, Severna Park (MD)
Noah Cash, D, St. Thomas Aquinas (FL)
Jack DeSantis, D, St. Francis De Sales (OH)
Brett Makar, D/LSM, Yorktown (NY)
Evan Malgier, D/LSM, St. Augustine (NJ)
Max Verch, D/LSM, Syosset (NY)
Inside Lacrosse ranks this class as the 10th best incoming recruiting class, and we will see come the spring how beneficial they will be at bringing Maryland to their sixth straight championship weekend appearance.
This fall, Maryland’s alumni game is scheduled for October 6th, they are slated to take on Cornell on October 14th. Thus far, those are the only two events that have been shared, but look for a few more to emerge throughout the fall. Be sure to follow along for my next edition of the Offseason Overview later this week when I highlight Johns’ Hopkins.