It didn’t take long for No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse team to score its first goal of the season. In fact, it took only eight seconds.
After the Terps won the faceoff, junior midfielder Roman Puglise caught a pass and fired a shot from the left hash mark. The ball flew past High Point’s goalie, which was not uncommon in the season opener.
In total, the Terps have combined for 37 goals in two games. Albeit a small sample size, Maryland has bumped up its scoring by nearly six goals per game from last year. A large chunk of that can be attributed to the returning players.
Entering the 2019-2020 season, the Terps returned their top four scorers from last season; Logan Wisnauskas, Jared Bernhardt, Anthony DeMaio and Bubba Fairman — all four of which have excelled through two games.
“This is a really unselfish group with a lot of great chemistry. The vibes are really positive right now, we need to keep that going,” DeMaio said. “No one really cares about the stats, like who gets the goal or who gets the assist...as long as it goes in the back of the net.”
Unselfishness has been exhibited in DeMaio’s play thus far. The junior leads the team with six assists. He’s also tallied four goals, none bigger than the game winner on Saturday in double-overtime against Richmond.
While cradling the ball near the net in double-overtime of Saturday’s matchup, Wisnauskas faced a double team. Rather than force the issue, he fired a pass across the crease to an open DeMaio, who caught the ball, took a few steps to his right and fired a laser that found the back of the net.
DeMaio’s score helped cap a five-goal fourth quarter comeback. While the defense stepped up by only allowing two goals in the four quarter, it was the offense that caught fire down the stretch.
“I felt like we possessed the ball a little bit better and we rotated the ball around a little bit more, and we were more patient and poised,” head coach John Tillman said. “I know this group is a very unselfish group so if guys move and cut, normally the teammates will find them.”
Having such talented offensive players also helps the team’s defense. When the offense and defense compete in practice, both sides can learn from each other.
“You just get better everyday. Playing against Jared, he’s one of the most athletic, complete players in the country,” defenseman John Geppert said. “Logan is really smart. Intellectually, there are very few players that think like him.”
While the returning players have made an impact, the team is also getting a boost from some newcomers — particularly, freshman Jack Brennan. Brennan announced his presence for the Terps in the season opener, scoring two goals in the first period. In the comeback against the Spiders, the talented freshman tacked on two more goals in the late stages of the game.
Brennan was not one of the higher touted incoming freshman, but he has knack for scoring. He racked up 188 goals in high school and already has four in his short Maryland career.
“Jack’s been great for us. Last year, I felt like we started slow in a couple games, and Jack is always coming out to practice ready to go and it showed in the game,” DeMaio said. “He was ready in the first five minutes when our offense was not moving as well. Jack created a positive boost for us.”
No play better encapsulates the movement and unselfishness of this team, then the two-man play between Demaio and Wisnauskas that led to a Sportscenter Top 10 goal against High Point.
With a defender on him, Demaio turned to run upfield, away from the goal. Simultaneously, Wisnauskas cut towards the goal. Demaio threw the ball behind his head, hitting his teammates perfectly in stride. and Wisnauskas did the rest.
“Just being here over winter break with Logan...I think we gained a little bit more of that chemistry and trust in each other when it comes to those two-man plays and stuff,” Demaio said. “We definitely practiced it before. Wouldn’t do anything in the games that we don’t practice. So I think we are pretty confident in that.”