Just as the press conference following Maryland men’s lacrosse’s victory over undefeated Penn State was ending, senior Isaiah Davis-Allen spoke up.
“Alright,” Davis-Allen said. “I don’t think you can talk about the last two games without mentioning our fifth-year guy Nick Manis.”
A native of nearby Annapolis, Maryland, the redshirt senior is far from the first name that comes to fans’ minds when they think of Maryland lacrosse. In his four years with the program, Manis has 19 ground balls and nine caused turnovers. While he might not go down in the all-time record books, the impact he’s made on the team this year goes beyond what you’ll see on the stat line.
“He’s given us a big boost the last four, five games,” Davis-Allen said. “Just seeing here on the stat line, all of the stuff he does might not be on the stat sheet, but he does so much for our team.”
Davis-Allen could’ve let the press conference end, but the stoic short-stick defensive midfielder wanted everyone in the room to know that leadership can come from anywhere.
Manis’ name was one of 14 called during the Senior Day pregame ceremony, and the Terps couldn’t have taken down then-No. 1 Penn State without the whole class.
Sophomore faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen dominated Penn State’s Gerard Arceri early, going 7-for-10 in the first quarter. But when Arceri started the second quarter 3-for-5, Tillman utilized senior Jon Garino at the X.
“Sometimes, you just watch and you say ‘Okay he’s losing, he’s winning.’ And then other times there’s a little bit of gut involved.” Tillman said. “Austin was doing fine ... we just felt that Jon would be a good change of pace.”
Despite a career .528 winning percentage at the faceoff, Garino didn’t get any reps at the draw as a junior with the emergence of then-freshman Henningsen. Now a redshirt senior, he’s been called upon again to help the faceoff unit. He’s having his best season yet, boasting a .740 winning percentage after going 9-for-11 against the Nittany Lions.
Junior Dan Morris, who will be graduating a semester early, wasn’t having his best outing in the cage. While the Nittany Lions weren’t taking that many shots, the shots they were taking were finding the back of the net. With Penn State riding a three-goal run in the third quarter, Morris came up with three saves in a two-minute defensive stalemate that eventually led to a goal by Connor Kelly.
“Really proud of how Danny bounced back in the second half,” Tillman said. “I don’t think any of those were creampuffs.”
Even Ben Chisolm, a senior who came into the season with just six registered shots, got in on the action with his third goal of the season.
“I don’t think he would’ve made that play two months ago. He’s starting to get some confidence,” Tillman said.
And then there’s Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock, who, while already established leaders, have shown Tillman something different recently.
“They’ve done such a good job of not just scoring, but managing the game and getting other guys organized,” Tillman said. “Really in the last three or four weeks ... they’ve kind of just taken it to a new level.”
While those two are first and fourth on the team in scoring, respectively, they don’t even need to score to make the impact needed to win.
“I think people look at stats, and I know for Matt and Colin, they don’t care who scores,” Tillman said. “They just want to win, and they want to help the team.”
Throw in Dylan Maltz and Tim Rotanz, who’ve combined for 33 points, and the entirety of the Terps’ senior class is making a difference at the exact right time.
“They’ve done so much for this program,” Tillman said. “I can’t put into words without getting emotional what they mean to this program, what they’ve done for us.”