Following No. 2 Maryland lacrosse’s 13-7 victory against Marist Tuesday evening—its second win to start the season—senior midfielder Connor Kelly said the team is using its early-season games to figure out an offensive identity.
In the team’s first game against Navy, the offensive stars were senior Tim Rotanz and freshman Bubba Fairman, who combined for six of Maryland’s 10 goals. But Tuesday, a different set of players—Kelly and sophomore Jared Bernhardt—powered the Terps to a win, but not in any ordinary fashion. Each recording hat tricks with a collection of assists, the duo exploded for 15 points, the most by a pair of Maryland teammates since 1991. Both players set new career-highs in points.
“The attack did a lot of the damage tonight, and [Jared and Connor] got the goals and the assists,” head coach John Tillman said. “But I do think the way that we play, every game it will probably be a little different.”
It actually couldn’t have been much more different between the first two games. Following stellar performances on the stat sheet to start the season, Rotanz and Fairman didn’t find the back of the net once against Marist. A lone Rotanz assist was the only point from the pair.
Kelly and Bernhardt only scored one goal each against Navy, but hit nylon nine times against the Red Foxes. The first three shots Kelly took all turned into goals, as he completed his 15th career hat trick just 7:34 into the first quarter. Kelly, coming off a three-assist game, dished out four on Tuesday.
As for Bernhardt, his explosion was unprecedented. With five goals and two assists, he set a new career-high in goals, assists and points all in one game. It was the first time in his career with more than one assist and the only time he’s netted more than three goals.
“Obviously I expect high things from myself, [in] personal goals and team goals, too,” Bernhardt said. “So everyday I come out and try to give 100 percent.”
With nearly half of Maryland’s goals and a large portion of assists graduating after last season, these first several weeks—like Kelly said—will help the Terps find their identity to fill the voids. Whether it be the Connor Kelly and Jared Bernhardt show or a collection of secondary stars, the team could have a different point leader from game to game.
“If we do that,” Tillman said, “that’s going to be really good for us just because it’ll make us so hard to defend.”
In other news
Maryland baseball is just two days away. The team’s pitching staff will be anchored by familiar faces, but also filled with new ones.