With 4:27 left in the third quarter of Maryland lacrosse’s matchup with Richmond on Saturday, a goal from Logan Wisnauskas put Maryland up 10-4 and it was looking like curtains for the Spiders. Then, things took a turn.
Richmond rattled off five unanswered goals to cut Maryland’s lead to one, and it seemed the Spiders were primed for the upset. But an Austin Henningsen faceoff win got the Terps the possession they needed to ice the game and hold on for the one-goal win. Still, it wasn’t a great look for a top-five team in the country.
It wasn’t all on the defense, however, as the Maryland offense that had scored 10 goals through three quarters was shut out in the fourth.
“I think we got up a couple goals there and kinda lost a little bit of focus,” sophomore attack Anthony DeMaio said. “We can’t let that happen.”
Since then, head coach John Tillman and his team have been poring over film from the last 20 minutes of play, identifying what went wrong and how they can go about addressing it.
“Like every week, we’ll go back and watch the film and certainly try to show the guys, ‘Hey, these are the good things we did, these are the things we didn’t do well,’” Tillman said. “We just try to clean that stuff up because, we get it, other people are gonna watch the film, and if you don’t fix and address some of the mistakes you made, people are gonna attack those things until you get it right.”
Tillman has linked his defense’s inconsistency to the new parts he has to work with. But on a defense made up of six underclassmen, long-stick midfielder Nick Brozowski and the rest of the veterans know the onus is on them.
“As the older guys—like me, Curtis [Corley] and Thomas O'Connell—out there, we gotta make sure we limit our mistakes,” Brozowski said. ”You’re gonna allow the young guys to make mistakes, so you gotta make sure that we’re kinda being the ones anchoring the defense, not making any screwups or adding to the problem.”
Brozowski and Co. know that there’s still room for improvement for themselves too. Should Maryland find itself in another offensive drought like it did against Richmond, it’ll need to tighten up defensively and not allow teams to pile on goals.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Brozowski said. “Letting up nine goals to Richmond is not something we wanna do, especially [five] goals in the fourth quarter, so you’re gonna have your February mistakes especially being a young defense and it being early in the season but I think we have a lot of potential.”
Brozowski is one of the leaders of this defense, though, and what he’s been able to learn from those who came before could go a long way. From Greg Danseglio to Bryce Young, Brozowski has been able to absorb what the best at his position have carried themselves and does all he can to pass that knowledge on to those who follow after.
“I think just instilling confidence in [the younger guys] is the biggest key,” Brozowski said. “You kinda just tell the guys, ‘Hey, you’re gonna make your mistakes, it’s gonna be really really hard and your head’s gonna be spinning,’ but when they make a good play, let them know if they do something well. You gotta make sure you kinda tell them that, and that goes a long way, especially for a young guy.”
Maryland’s next test will come on the road, as the Terps visit an unranked but dangerous Penn team on Saturday.