Maryland men’s lacrosse team had an open practice on Monday, allowing reporters and media get their first look at the 2020 team.
Prior to taking the field, Maryland head coach John Tillman and select players spoke to the media about the previous season and what can be expected this spring from the Terps.
Here are a few takeaways from the day.
A location for the Virginia matchup has been set
While finishing up his time with the media, Tillman confirmed that Virginia will be coming to College Park for a 2019 NCAA Quarterfinal rematch.
The Terps lost 13-12 in overtime to the Cavaliers in May, a matchup that involved a very controversial Virginia goal that appeared to hit the crossbar.
(Prepare yourself Maryland fans.)
Although a date has not been announced, a Maryland-Virginia rematch should be a very interesting matchup. While the Cavaliers were ranked as the No. 2 team in the NCAA’s way-too-early men’s lacrosse top 25 rankings, the Terps were rated as the No. 5 team.
Replay review may be coming to college lacrosse soon
Given the controversial goal scored by Virginia’s Michael Kraus helped end Maryland’s tournament run last season, Tillman has since been a major proponent of the implementation of replay review on scoring plays.
“I don’t think they’ve had that discussion officially yet, I know that’s been brought up in a lot of back channels,” Tillman said. “My gut is the capability’s there, and seems like kind of a ‘Why wouldn’t we do it?’ So my gut tells me it would keep getting it pushed through.”
While it hasn’t begun to work its way through the NCAA’s process of approval, Tillman can make a strong case for replay review in college lacrosse, even if it’s only implemented in the postseason. But with the passage of the 80-second shot clock prior to the 2019 season, the NCAA lacrosse rules committee appears to be becoming more receptive to rule changes.
Three new leaders for the Terps
Last year, Maryland men’s lacrosse had four team captains, including senior midfielder Thomas O’Connell, senior defender Curtis Corley, senior long stick midfielder Nick Brozowski and junior attackman Jared Bernhardt.
The Terps lost three of those players to graduation, with Bernhardt still in College Park.
Tillman announced Monday that junior midfielders Bubba Fairman, Roman Puglise and Logan Wisnauskas would fill those captain voids this upcoming season, along with Bernhardt.
“The history of Maryland lacrosse is second to none, so when coach gives you a call in the summer and says you’ve been elected a captain, it makes you take a step back,” Puglise said. “Just knowing the challenges that were ahead, accepting those challenges, and just gathering this new group of guys and seeing what we can do with them.”
Fairman, Wisnauskas and Bernhardt are arguably Maryland’s best offensive players. Last year the trio combined for 125 goals and 79 assists. Similarly to last season, the Terps will rely heavily on their offensive production to make a deep run in the tournament next year.
Puglise, on the other hand, was relied on as Maryland’s No. 1 short stick defensive midfielder in his sophomore campaign last season. Puglise was a fundamental part of the Terps’ faceoff unit, snagging 47 ground balls on the season, which was second to only senior faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen with 67.
A newcomer and a familiar face had notable practices
After a breakout season that consisted of 44 goals and 35 points, Wisnauskas appeared even quicker and lighter on his feet during a few of Maryland’s drills on Monday.
Wisnauskas cut weight entering the 2019 season, after his 2018 season was deterred by a virus, allowing him to improve his elusive dodging and passing skills that went along with his high lacrosse IQ. But in the open practice, the Sykesville, Maryland, native looked a little bulkier as if he had put on a little muscle this past summer.
Another Terp who had an exceptional showing was freshman attackman Jack Sawyer. Sawyer, who received a four-star rating from Inside Lacrosse, arrives to Maryland from Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore.
With the departure of senior attackman Louis Dubick, a spot on Maryland’s attack line is up for grabs. And a lot of Terp fans have been promoting Sawyer, connecting the vacant position with one of Maryland’s newest additions.
Sawyer appeared to live up to that hype on Monday. The freshman was constantly finding open teammates in drills and scrimmages and managed to find scoring opportunities for himself as well.
It’s too early to determine what kind of impact Sawyer will have on the team in the upcoming season, but the midfielder-turned-attackman has showcased his talent early in fall practice.
Tillman would like to introduce two-point shots
The Premier Lacrosse League was a success in its first season, and one of the best things that the league may have implemented was a two-point shot that was located 15 yards from the center of the goal.
Such a change is something that Tillman would like to see in college lacrosse.
“Personally for me, I would love to see a two pointer,” Tillman said. “I think it would be great for fans. I also think it would create more goals because you’d have to extend your defense, which would open the inside.
“And then there would be guys taking some of those shots, your goalie would catch it, and you create more transition…”
Tillman, who was in Philadelphia for the Whipsnakes’ championship win on Saturday, pointed to the PLL and noted that the two-pointer could have a large impact on the outcomes of games.
“There were a couple moments where a guy shot one from the midfield line in the PLL championship, and it tipped off a guy and went in,” Tillman said. “If not, that’s two points. That would have totally changed the game.”