Coming into last Saturday’s matchup against Yale, senior defender Tim Muller had recorded just one shot in his entire career for Maryland men’s lacrosse.
His second shot, however, was the team’s first goal of the afternoon and the first of Muller’s career.
“I saw it hit the net and I was pumped, I think I was screaming at Colin [Heacock]” Muller said after the Terps’ 12-11 victory. “I always jokingly go to him every week. I say ‘I run all the way down the field, you guys gotta give me the ball so I’m not just running down there for nothing.’”
A “pole goal” is one of the most fun components of men’s lacrosse, particularly because it defies the intended purpose of the elongated stick. A defender’s pole is longer than an attack’s because it helps create turnovers, disrupts running and passing lanes and can clear the ball more effectively in transition. The physics of the stick itself are geared towards not scoring, as you lose accuracy and shot speed the longer the stick is.
Alas, the Terps have made it a regular part of their offense.
Head coach John Tillman acknowledged the team has been getting production from unconventional places, and the increase in pole goals is one of them. Just four games into the season, there have been six long-stick goals scored by long-stick middies Nick Brozowski and Matt Neufeldt, as well as Muller.
“Some guys like it more than me, like Brozowski and Neufeldt, they love running up and down the field,” Muller said. Neufeldt, a preseason Honorable Mention All-American, in particular seems to love letting it fly. The junior has taken eight shots on the season, just two behind offensive-minded midfielder Connor Kelly.
The Terps recorded five pole goals last year, so they’ve already eclipsed that number just four games into the season. Still, Muller knows he and his fellow long-poles can’t get too carried away with scoring.
“We got to stay back to what we do traditionally on defense,” Muller said. “They can run all they want up and down the field but when it comes down to the defensive end, they gotta strap it up.”