Maryland men’s lacrosse’s title defense is off to a good start. The Terps are 3-0 in 2018, defeating Navy, Marist and High Point over the past eight days.
The wins over Navy and Marist were relatively easy, while Maryland had to sweat until the final minutes at High Point, nearly blowing an early 10-3 lead before winning 16-14. Here’s what stood out from those games.
1. Maryland’s offense looks fine
After losing Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock and Dylan Maltz, there were questions about how many offensive weapons the Terps would have. Turns out they have plenty.
Maryland has 37 goals through its first three games, with four players already scoring six or more. Connor Kelly has done an excellent job as the main facilitator on offense, and his eight assists so far are only three fewer than he had all of last season. Tim Rotanz looks to be finding his teammates more often as well, as he already has five assists after finishing last year with 11. Jared Bernhardt has been impressive too, but more on him later.
As teams focus on the Terps’ top three options, more shots will be open for Logan Wisnauskas, Bubba Fairman and the second line as they look for their shots more frequently.
2. Jared Bernhardt has arrived
The sophomore deferred to the veterans as a freshman, but has taken his game to a new level this season. He had 20 goals and eight assists last year, and already has 10 goals and five assists in the first three games.
Bernhardt has been running the show behind the net, where he’s a threat to find the open teammate as well as make a run at the cage. He should be one of the main factors in Maryland’s offense all season, and will only get better as the year goes on.
3. Short-stick midfielders need to improve
Maryland has two of the best long-stick midfielders in the country in Nick Brozowski and Matt Neufeldt, but the same can’t be said for their short-stick counterparts. It’s not surprising that this group has taken a step back after losing Isaiah Davis-Allen and Nick Manis.
Only Adam DiMillo played every game last season, and Roman Puglise and Drew Harrison had not played college lacrosse before the season opener against Navy. Still, even more experienced midfielders Thomas O’Connell and Wesley Janeck have struggled.
It’s still early, but this unit will need to improve when Maryland takes on better offenses, including Albany on March 10.
4. Curtis Corley is becoming a star on defense
With Bryce Young suffering an undisclosed injury right before the start of the season, the junior was thrust into the top defender role. He’s been excellent so far, winning Big Ten Defender of the Week for his performance against Navy and continuing to excel against Marist and High Point.
Head coach John Tillman said that Corley’s development as a leader this year has been “awesome.”
“We kind of joked last year that Curt was so young in that Navy game that his head was spinning,” Tillman said after Maryland’s win over Marist. “And to look at that game a year later and Curt’s calling out different sets and getting guys in the right spots, he’s done really well.”
Jack Welding and Michael Adler have both been solid so far, and Maryland’s defense will only get better once Young returns from injury.
5. The schedule only gets tougher from here
The first three games look like warmups compared to Maryland’s remaining non-conference schedule.
The Terps will play Penn next, and then take on four opponents—Notre Dame, Albany, Villanova and North Carolina—all inside the top 15. Teams like to get better as the season goes on, and that applies to Maryland as it heads into the next portion of the season and beyond.