Following Maryland lacrosse’s 10-4 win over Navy to start the 2018 season, Midshipmen head coach Rick Sowell said that Maryland is a “reload team, not a rebuild team.”
That’s not surprising considering the Terps’ track record under head coach John Tillman, but this year there seemed to be more questions than normal. Maryland lost one of the best attack lines in the country in Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock, and Dylan Maltz, as well as possibly two of the nation’s best players at their respect positions in short-stick midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen and defender Tim Muller.
Maryland still had familiar faces at each position, but there was a lot of production to replace. Five starters today either didn’t play or played in less than half of Terps games last year, and several contributors off the bench saw their first serious action.
“To get an opening season win against a tough rival and a group that always plays hard, a lot of guys getting their first action and the weather being what it is, I thought the guys showed a lot of toughness,” Tillman said.
Tillman knew he would need some players to step up this season, but this week had an extra bump in the road. On Friday, Tillman received a call from a trainer that senior defender and captain Bryce Young wouldn’t be able to play the next day due to an undisclosed injury. Senior Michael Adler, who appeared in just six games last season after transferring from UMass-Lowell, started in his absence.
“Michael Adler did a tremendous job,” Tillman said. “He basically stole possessions diving to back up a goal. He’s a guy who worked really hard on the scout team and we have a lot of confidence in him.”
Sophomore defender Jack Welding also made his first career start after appearing in seven games last year.
But Young’s injury wasn’t the only thing that happened Friday. Tillman also said that midfielder Connor Kelly had food poisoning Thursday night, and they were unsure whether he was going to play.
“It was an interesting morning, probably went to the coffee machine a little more than normal,” Tillman said. “We always talk about the next man mentality and the kids bought into that.”
Although Kelly still had a solid day with one goal and three assists, the Terps received contributions from several new players on offense. Redshirt freshman and Syracuse transfer Logan Wisnauskas scored his first career goal and chipped in an assist, sophomore Ethan Mintzer scored his first career goal and redshirt freshman Anthony DeMaio made his first career start.
However, the biggest game came from freshman midfielder Bubba Fairman. In his first college game, Inside Lacrosse’s No. 2 recruit had a hat trick and even hustled back to cause a turnover around midfield after having his shot saved at the other end.
“I think Bubba has one of the greatest mindsets towards lacrosse,” redshirt senior goalie Dan Morris said of Fairman. “He loves the game and always wants to learn. Tim [Rotanz] and I live with each other, and Bubba’s been to our apartment several times to go over plays and things like that. He has a great attitude towards the game and always wants to continue to grow and develop.”
As Maryland tries to turn the page on last year’s team and start another potential run to Championship Weekend, it will continue to need players to step up like they did this weekend to complement returning stars.
“I think that’s the way this team is going to be built,” Tillman said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a lot of household names, but we just try to find wins and whatever we need to do, these kids have shown they’re willing to do what they need to do.”