Maryland men’s lacrosse is back and enters the 2023 season with a target on its back.
After completing a perfect 18-0 season on their way to a national championship, the Terps are ranked No. 2 nationally and expected to remain among the country’s best.
Following up its historic 2022 season will be a challenge, though, as Maryland lost multiple key pieces during the offseason.
“I don’t think we should expect this group to be right where the last year’s team started off,” head coach John Tillman said. “Even last year at this time we were still a work in progress with some new guys, and I felt like we got better as the year went on. So, I’m excited to see where these guys go.”
The Terps are looking for their 30th straight season-opener win on Saturday against Richmond. The game will begin at 1 p.m. and be streamed on Big Ten Plus. Read the full season preview here. DraftKings Sportsbook pins the Terps as 7.5-goal favorites.
Richmond Spiders (0-0, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
2021 record: 11-5 (4-1 SoCon)
Head coach Dan Chemotti enters his 10th year at the helm of Richmond’s lacrosse program and has achieved tremendous success. As the first and only head coach in program history, Chemotti has guided the Spiders to four NCAA Tournament appearances (2014, 2018, 2019, 2022) and three Southern Conference Tournament titles (2018, 2019, 2022). Chemotti will have a new challenge this season, though, as Richmond moves into the Atlantic 10 Conference for the 2023 season. The Spiders were picked to win the inaugural Atlantic 10 men’s lacrosse season.
Players to watch
Dalton Young, senior attacker, No. 21 – With the departure of attackman Ryan Lanchbury, Young will assume the role of the Spiders’ offensive focal point. He was one of three Spiders named to the first-ever Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference Team. In 2022, Young tallied 39 goals, 23 assists and 28 ground balls, which all ranked top five on the team.
Lance Madonna, junior midfielder, No. 2 – Madonna started in all 15 of his appearances as a sophomore and was a key piece to a top-15 scoring offense. He was fifth on the team in goals (25) and fourth in assists last season (12). Madonna was also one of the three Spiders selected to the preseason all-conference team.
Jake Saunders, graduate defender, No. 45 – Saunders was the final Spider to make the preseason all-conference team and is most likely the team’s best defender. Last season, Saunders caused a team-high 23 turnovers and scooped up 33 ground balls, which was fourth on the team.
Defense. While Richmond did lose two members of its backline during the offseason, it has a variety of experienced players who can step up. Redshirt sophomore defender Braden McClure and senior defender Jake Kapp each received substantial playing time last year, scooping 42 ground balls and causing 22 turnovers. Pairing McClure and Kapp with Saunders could lead to a very strong defense.
Offensive experience. Similar to Maryland, the Spiders lost four of their top six goal-scorers from last season. Sophomore attackman Max Merklinger is expected to receive a bigger role this year after scoring eight goals as a freshman, but Richmond does not have many other attackers with experience.
Three things to watch
1. What will Maryland’s offense look like? Perhaps the biggest question mark the Terps face this year is their offense. The offseason brought multiple changes to Maryland’s roster and coaching staff. The Terps lost five of their top six goal-scorers from last season and hired former star midfielder Jake Bernhardt to be the team’s offensive coordinator. Maryland always has a prolific offense, but it will definitely look very different in 2023.
“Stylistically we change and we’ll always change to kind of suit the players we have,” Tillman said. “And I think Jake’s done a really good job with that.”
2. How much will we see of Dante Trader Jr.? While midfielder Dante Trader Jr. is listed as a sophomore, it is his first year playing lacrosse at Maryland. Trader spent his freshman year focusing on his football career, but has since decided to pick up his stick again. Although Trader is not experienced at the college level, he is a tremendous athlete and prime candidate for a starting spot in the midfield.
“I think with Dante my biggest concern is … protecting Dante from himself,” Tillman said. “When you’re young and you’re an alpha male, you know, sometimes you can push a little too hard. And that’s where I think we have to be really helpful with him.”
3. Can Richmond keep up? Maryland barely outlasted the Spiders in their previous two meetings in 2019 and 2020, as the Terps won both by just one. However, this is not the same Richmond team that made it to the national tournament last year. The Spiders lost six of their starters and lack experienced transfers. While Maryland lost some players as well, the Terps still have one of the best coaches in the game and an influx of talented newcomers.