Time was running out in the first half but Jared Bernhardt was confident he could make something happen.
After Penn State committed its 11th turnover, Bernhardt had at least a third of the field to clear to get a good shot in. With less than ten seconds remaining, Bernhardt raced past midfield, shimmied through Penn State’s lone transition defender and shoveled in his third goal of the game and 157th of his career with one second to spare on the clock.
For Bernhardt, the feat of athleticism was particularly normal, but for the now fan-laden stage and the senior day occasion, his goal was fitting — as was the domination by the rest of his veteran teammates in Maryland’s 17-10 win over Penn State.
“I’m very happy to get the win on senior day. The senior class has done so much for us,” head coach John Tillman said, “So I’m happy for them.”
The senior day festivities were not as eventful or familial as other years, but the sentiment was still there. The Terps’ 16 seniors got a chance to locate their families in the crowd and and embrace the field with fans for the first time all season due to lightened COVID-19 restrictions.
Initially, senior day was not as ceremonious as the veteran bunch would have liked. Faceoffs were consistently lost as Justin Shockey’s struggles against Gerard Arceri continued, Penn State’s six on six defense smothered the senior led attack and Maryland looked just as they did in most starts: lacking in control. After attacker Jackson Reynolds fired his first shot past sophomore goalie Logan McNaney, the Terps were placed in a situation identical to their last meeting with the Nittany Lions.
Maryland had to rely on its defense to regain possessions, and eventually the lead. And the 0-3 faceoff deficit had to be nullified by a spectacular performance from at least one end of the field. Senior attacker Logan Wisnauskas was ready and willing to take heed of the situation and provide timely goals to give Maryland its first lead and tally his 200th point. His shot beamed and grazed the crossbar both times he finished and proved to be a much needed spark for the offense.
Soon thereafter, Shockey was benched for sophomore Luke Wierman who helped fuel the offense a little more. Even after the Lions responded to tie the contest again, senior midfielder Bubba Fairman netted an unassisted jumpshot across his body to recapture the lead at 3-2, a lead that Maryland would retain for the rest of quarter and the rest of the game.
As the Terps shot out of a cannon for the 15 minutes that would follow, the senior fun continued as Wisnauskas scored again, Griffin Brown netted his fifth of the season and Bernhardt tied, and later surpassed, Matt Rambo as the program’s leading scorer. Still, Bernhardt was even-keeled in his demeanor, as his teammates and the crowd celebrated his significant milestone, and was more focused on the teams seventh victory.
“I really was not even thinking about [the record],” Bernhardt said, recalling his record breaking goal, “I was thinking about the game and what we can do to come out with the win.”
Penn State went on a short two goal spurt to ease the suffering with the score 6-4, but Maryland’s six goal second quarter outburst was enough to send the Lions back to the drawing board with a six goal deficit.
The onslaught carried on in the third as the Terps bolted to a three goal run, mostly strengthened by the faceoff help from Wierman who snagged two early faceoff wins to fortify Maryland’s offense. But as the Terps turned the ball over and made mistakes, Penn State capitalized and went on a three goal run of its own. The third ended up finishing even and was the contest’s most contested juncture, but the damage had already been dealt.
“That third quarter got a little ugly when they went on a run,” defenseman Brett Makar said. “But thankfully we got Grill, a senior leader for us, to reel as back in. And in the fourth quarter we were able to finish strong.”
Maryland faltered and often relaxed at times but was still far too imposing for its opposition. Every blow came with an equal response by the Terps, whether it was at the faceoff X or on the scoreboard. Ultimately, it was the senior offense, led by Bernhardt, who made sure Maryland’s lead remained. Bernhardt, Wisnauskas and Fairman combined for 11 of the games 17 goals and along with the rest of the teams seniors, provided apt leadership in the games more worrisome moments.
Three things to know
1. A faceoff change helped turn the tide. Similar to week two’s contest, Shockey failed to win possessions for Maryland at the games open. His 0-4 start was enough to warrant a Wierman replacement that gave Maryland some wins at the X and vitalized the offense. Following the change late in the second quarter, Maryland went 12-23 at the faceoff and outscored the Nittany Lions 15-7.
“Luke’s done so well for us quietly,” Tillman said, “In some days he is our best faceoff guy in practice ... We had so much confidence in Luke and Luke responded really well.”
2. Jared Bernhardt had a day. With Bernhardt at his best, exposing defenses and scoring with ease, Maryland looks to be a force to be reckoned with. Not only did Bernhardt surpass Rambo, he did so with style and grace. He had five goals and three assists for his senior day and tied his career high for points in game and looks to be finalizing his career with his name all over Maryland’s record books.
“He’s worthy of that number one jersey,” Tillman said. “He’s just a pro, very steady and consistent with his approach — he’s never satisfied.”
3. Bubba Fairman is easing into his role on the offense. Fairman has been awfully quiet in the early parts of the season. His absence on the offense wasn’t without some effort to get going. Fairman played notably aggressive to find his spots. It eventually paid off in the Terps second meeting against Rutgers (2G) and Penn State (2G). After scoring just three combined goals in the seasons first five matches, Fairman has brought an added wrinkle to the offense with four goals in two weeks.