Maryland men’s lacrosse starts its 2020 season Saturday when it hosts High Point.
The Terps, who lost by one goal to Virginia in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals, return their top four scorers, including Jared Bernhardt, Bubba Fairman, Logan Wisnauskas and Anthony DeMaio, but have some question marks at other positions.
Here are some of the biggest questions as Maryland attempts to bring back its first NCAA Championship since 2017.
1. Who will be in net for the Terps?
For the second consecutive season, Maryland will have to find a replacement in its goal.
In 2017, Dan Morris was the netminder that led the Terps to their first national title since 1975 and returned a season later for the team’s final four run.
But upon his graduation, Danny Dolan — a transfer from UMass that arrived in 2018 — was named the starting goalie for Maryland. The Garden City, New York, native had only made two appearances prior in a Maryland jersey, which both occured during blowout wins.
In his one year as the anchor of the Terps’ defense, Dolan made 191 saves and posted a 51.5 save percentage.
Once again, Maryland does not return its starting goalie but has a plethora of options, including Drew Morris, Colin Miller, Logan McNaney and Chris Brandau.
While Drew Morris, who appeared in fives games in relief of Dolan last year, may have been viewed as the favorite, things changed when Brandau transferred from Georgetown in July. Brandau appeared in nine games as a freshman for the Hoyas last year, recording 48 saves and holding a 55.2 save percentage.
Head coach John Tillman said Wednesday that Morris, Miller and Brandau all appeared in the team’s preseason scrimmages but nobody has pulled ahead of the competition.
“I don’t think anybody has run away with the job,” Tillman said. “I felt like [Dolan] was clearly our guy last year and then three years ago Danny Morris did a really good job — felt good there. ... So they’ve all done a good job. We can’t really complain about their performance. I think we’re kind of waiting for maybe to pull away right now.”
It should come to no surprise if Tillman elects to play more than one goalkeeper in the Terps’ season opener Saturday.
2. Who will be replacing Louis Dubick as a third attackman?
Bernhardt and Wisnauskas are two offensive fireworks for Tillman’s offense. The duo are the top two priorities for opposing team’s scouting reports.
Last year, senior Louis Dubick completed the trio of attackman. Dubick, who was previously used as an extra man specialist, came into his own in 2019, scoring 30 goals — including debatably the most important goal of the season against Towson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Throughout the season, Dubick did a great job at finding openings in the defense and cutting hard towards the net. But now that the third generation Maryland lacrosse player is no longer on the roster, Tillman had a void in his attack.
“Louis did a great job last year of just kind of doing what he did well and not trying to do too much. I think [assistant coach J.L. Reppert] deserves a lot of credit, putting him in spots where he could be successful,” Tillman said. “As we got through the year and got more comfortable, people got a really good sense of what Lou could do, and they trusted him with opportunities.”
Though Tillman did not specifically name anyone to replace Dubick, a few names to watch out for include Nick DeMaio and Jack Brennan.
DeMaio, who was rated higher than his brother Anthony DeMaio as a recruit, redshirted last season but could be ready to contribute for the Terps. Brennan, a freshman from Rochester, New York, who is listed as an attackman and midfielder, could be used in that third slot on attack — though he seems more of a fit to replace Will Snider and Christian Zawadzki on the second midfield line.
“Now [it] would be tough to ask anybody to play like Lou,” Tillman said. “But there are things that I think we could steal from his game, and if guys can utilize some of those strengths that will definitely help us.”
3. With departures, is Justin Shockey ‘the guy’ at FOGO?
Like most positions on their team, the Terps are facing departures from the faceoff position. After running with a three-headed monster in Justin Shockey, Austin Henningsen and Wesley Janeck at the faceoff X, Shockey is the only returning Terp with the other two graduating.
But in the offseason, Maryland added Lehigh transfer Joel Trucksess, who won 63.1 percent of his faceoffs as a Mountain Hawk, and freshmen Luke Wierman and Conor Calderone.
Last season, the Terps ranked fourth in the Big Ten in faceoff percentage (53.8 percent), which is an area Tillman would like to see improved this season.
“That’s a big area of improvement for us — that needs to be improved,” Tillman said. “And we’ve got to be consistent there — more consistent than last year.”
Despite Shockey having the most experience at the collegiate level in the faceoff X, the team still plans to “ride the hot hand” in a similar fashion it did last year.
“It’ll definitely be a mix,” Tillman said. “Let’s say Justin comes out and he wins the first five, we’ll keeping riding them. If he struggles a little bit, we’re never afraid to throw somebody else in there if he’s tired or he’s gassed.”
Though he plans to attack the faceoff X with multiple guys, Tillman noted that Shockey is in the best shape of his life.
“He’s done a really good job so far,” Tillman said. “[I’ve been] really impressed with how focussed he is. So we’re excited about what he can do in his junior year.”
Newcomer Calderone will also be a name to watch out for. The Smithtown, New York, native made the 2020 U.S. Men’s U-19 training roster and was the No. 16 recruit in the 2019 class.
“Conor has been very mature and focused,” Tillman said. “He loved when Justin Shockey decided to come here — Conor was [already] committed. And what I love about Conor was he was like ‘Wow, that’s great, going against Justin that will make me better.’ So I’m really impressed with the fact that he wants that competition in practice. He embraces it, he knows it will make him better.”