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Maryland men’s lacrosse has rediscovered its chemistry on the field

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The Terps are playing together, and it has resulted in 18 assists on 30 goals in two wins.

NCAA Lacrosse: National Championship-North Carolina vs Maryland Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With a minute left in the first quarter against Michigan, Maryland men’s lacrosse freshman Jared Bernhardt put a defender into a spin cycle following a series of quick jab steps.

He bought himself all the time in the world for an open look at the goal, but dumped it off to Connor Kelly, who was waiting locked and loaded. Kelly found the back of the net, capping a five-goal run to end the first quarter with a 7-2 lead.

“This group is not afraid to make that extra pass. I don’t think anybody cares who scores,” head coach John Tillman said after the Terps’ 15-8 win.

Following a two-assist performance against Villanova, the Terps have been sharing the ball a lot better. Over the last two games against North Carolina and Michigan, the offense has registered 18 assists on its 30 combined goals.

“I thought in the first quarter we did a really good job of just sharing and moving,” Tillman said. “I thought the guys did a really good job of just trusting that if we kept the ball flowing and kept the ball in rhythm and guys moved off the ball ... we’d get some opportunities.”

Bernhardt, who isn’t the type to force anything that isn’t there, was aggressive nonetheless. In what Tillman called “his most aggressive game” yet, Bernhardt finished with his second hat trick of the season, an assist and a caused turnover.

“He [Bernhardt] is such a selfless guy,” Tillman said. “We’re trying to let him feel like, ‘Hey if there’s something there, don’t be afraid to take it. Don’t look back.’”

Now with 13 goals on the season, Bernhardt has moved into the top 20 of the program’s all-time freshmen scoring list, and is progressing with every game played.

“Each game, each practice, it seems to get better and better. Just hanging out off the field helps too,” Bernhardt said after the Terps’ win. “We’re playing pretty well, staying in the pace and staying in the flow of things.”

The team’s chemistry off the field is well-documented, and could be the reason the offense has come alive as of late.

“Our relationship off the field helps because we’re so close,” senior Colin Heacock said after the team’s season opening win over Navy. “I live with [Matt] Rambo and [Dylan] Maltz lives right down the street. We’re always hanging out, getting food.”

With the No. 1-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions visiting Maryland this upcoming weekend, the offense will need to keep up its rekindled chemistry.

“The kids spend a lot of time together, we don’t really have any cliques,” Tillman said. “I think a lot of the time when you see us play, that is reflected.”