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Maryland men’s lacrosse position preview: Terps will look to reload in 2018

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The defending champs suffered some significant losses, but expectations are still high in College Park.

NCAA Lacrosse: Men's Championships Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

After ending its 42-year championship drought, the Maryland men’s lacrosse team begins its national title defense at home Saturday against Navy. The Terps graduated three First Team All-Americans and multiple additional weapons, but they’ll return a handful of vital pieces with the hopes to reload in 2018.

Let’s take a look at how each position stands heading into the regular season.

Attack

Justin: Maryland has to replace its most production at this position. The Run-DMC line of Dylan Maltz, Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock is gone, which made up 41.8 percent of Maryland’s goals from last year.

Connor Kelly is wearing Rambo’s No. 1 this year, which means he should be the lead attackman, although he’s listed as a midfielder on the roster. Kelly led Maryland with 46 goals last season, and also added 11 assists. Like everyone on the Terps’ offense, he’ll have to step up and make more plays for others with Rambo gone.

After Kelly, there’s room for someone to step up. Junior Louis Dubick has been the Terps’ extra-man specialist the past two years, but could see a bigger role this year. Sophomore Steven Shollenberger and redshirt freshman Anthony DeMaio have both seen time in exhibitions, and former Under Armour All-American Logan Wisnauskas could get an opportunity after transferring from Syracuse.

Freshman Bubba Fairman is listed at midfielder like Kelly, but the best chance to get him on the field could be at attack. In a few weeks, he may be more known for his playmaking ability than his RKO celebration in last summer’s Under Armour All-American game.

Midfield

Joe: The Terps will return a handful of midfielders from last year’s team, but they’ll have to replace the production of two-time USILA All-American Isaiah Davis-Allen. He spent two years as a team captain and played in all 19 games as a defensive midfielder last season, grabbing 39 ground balls. Nick Manis, who also played in every game last season and recorded 10 ground balls, graduated as well.

With Kelly likely moving to attack, the most prominent returning midfielder is senior captain Tim Rotanz, who tallied 44 points last season. His 33 goals ranked third on the team, including three in the national championship game against Ohio State. Another key returner is sophomore Jared Bernhardt, who started in all 19 games in his first season as a Terrapin. He scored 20 goals with eight assists, recording a point in the first eight games of his career. Senior Adam DiMillo also played in every game as a two-way midfielder for Maryland last season, and he’ll be a leader as another team captain in 2018.

At defensive midfield, long poles Nick Brozowski and Matt Neufeldt both return. Brozowski appeared in every game last year, and Neufeldt led the team with 21 caused turnovers and 68 ground balls. Wesley Janeck returns after having 19 ground balls in 16 games as as a sophomore, and could slide into Davis-Allen’s short-stick midfield role.

Three other Terps— Thomas O’Connell, Ethan Mintzer and Jack Wilson—all played in at least 10 games last season. The Terps also welcomed seven new freshman midfielders to their roster for this season, and time will tell which could earn a role this season.

Defense

Joe: The Terps will return two of their three starting defenders from the National Championship roster, as senior Bryce Young and junior Curtis Corley each started every game last season. Young picked up 38 ground balls and caused 13 turnovers in 2017, and was named a team captain earlier this year. His leadership will anchor a defense that conceded fewer than nine goals per game last season.

The big defensive loss comes with the graduation of Tim Muller, who finished his senior season with a slew of accolades, including the William C. Schmeisser Award for the nation’s best defender, a second USILA All-American nomination and the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The Terps also graduated Mac Pons, who played in 10 games on defense after missing the first nine with an injury.

Maryland retains Jack Welding, who appeared in seven games as a reserve defender during his freshman season. Michael Adler returns as a senior after playing in six games last season, including time on the man-down unit. In the offseason, the Terps picked up transfer sophomore Matt McIlroy, who could turn into an important piece for this year’s team. He played in nine games last year with Denver, who the Terps beat to advance to the National Championship.

Goalkeeper/Specialists

Justin: Redshirt senior Dan Morris is back between the pipes for a second straight season. Morris had an up-and-down start to his time as a starter, but finished strong down the stretch and ended up leading the Big Ten in save percentage (.548). He should be the backbone for another strong Maryland defense.

Junior Cameron Brosh should back up Morris after making six appearances in relief last year, but freshman Drew Morris (no relation to the current starter) could also compete for the backup spot. He’s the No. 2 goalie in the class of 2017 and was an Under Armour All-American.

Until recently, it looked like junior Austin Henningsen would retake the starting faceoff position he’s held since his freshman year. After winning 59 percent of faceoffs as a freshman, he won just 46.7 percent as a sophomore. Tillman turned to fifth-year senior Jon Garino at the X during the NCAA Tournament, where he helped neutralize some of the best face-off men in the country.

But the arrival of Justin Shockey could change things. Shockey attended Landon School in Bethesda, where he led the Bears to a No. 1 national ranking and was named National Player of the Year by USA Today. He decided to transfer to Maryland instead of doing a prep year before heading to the Naval Academy, where he was originally committed. If he gets an opportunity, he may never relinquish the spot at the X until he graduates.