(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)
Y’all know the story by now.
John Tillman rode in town from Harvard ahead of the 2011 season to replace the legendary Dave Cottle, who resigned after a third straight NCAA Quarterfinal loss and and eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Since Tillman’s arrival, the Terrapins have seemingly done nothing but win, continuing their tradition of success and rising to higher heights than Maryland lacrosse has been in a while.
During the Tillman era, the Terrapins have gone 127-39 overall, made nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, seven Championship Weekend trips, been the NCAA runner-up four times, and won the 2017 national title to end their 42-year title drought.
After the 2019 season, many pegged Duke as the team of the decade and Maryland as the next best.
While the 2020 season, where they went 5-1, was cut short and we didn’t get to see if the Terrapins could get back to the Final Four after missing out for the first time in six years in 2019, Maryland seemed to have everything in place to not only contend for a Big Ten title, but also reclaim their spot amongst the game’s elite and be playing on Memorial Day weekend.
Much of the buzz around this Terrapins squad coming into the 2021 season can be seen on the offensive end, where they will return five starters from last season. Senior midfielder Logan Wisnauskas (24G/12A) and senior attackman/midfielder Anthony DeMaio (10G/11A) are the Terrapins top two returners after being the team’s leading and third-leading scorers last season. Sophomore attackman Daniel Maltz (12G/6A) and attackman/midfielder Jack Brennan (6G/3A) will look to follow up solid freshman campaigns. Senior midfielder Bubba Fairman (5G/6A) should continue his impressive play in 2021.
In addition to the five starters that return and look to continue making a significant impact this coming spring, Maryland has also brought in two impact transfers on the offensive end in Griffin Brown from Colgate and Eric Holden from Hobart. Brown comes to College Park following a stellar career at Colgate, where he was a major impact player the moment he stepped foot on campus. He led the Raiders offense last season with 26 points (21G/5A).
Similarly, Holden was one of the most dangerous weapons for a Hobart offense that ranked first in the nation last season. He put up 28 points (20G/8A) last season and finishes his career at Hobart as the program’s fourth-leading career point and goal scorer in their DI era.
Adding these two primary goal scorers to his already impressive and loaded offense makes them even more dangerous. The Terrapins will have more than a handful of weapons that they can turn to and lean on. It is very likely that we will see a situation in College Park where a different guy gets his number called every single game.
Maryland also brings in some stud freshman, including Calvert Hall, Md., product Daniel Kelly. And there is a possibility that attackman Jared Bernhardt, who planned to play football as a grad transfer at DII Ferris State, returns for a fifth season. Although, there has been nothing announced by Maryland.
While the Maryland offense looks to be stacked in 2021 any way you look at it, their defense looks to be just as powerful and talent heavy.
Nick Grill (8GB/6CT), who transferred in from Marquette last season, will be back for a fifth season of college lacrosse. He led the team in caused turnovers last season and certainly lived up to the hype as a consistent veteran presence on the back end for the Terrapins. Additionally, juniors Brett Makar (10GB/4CT) an John Geppert (12GB/5CT) will both be back and look to continue their growth, development, and dominance. Geppert, who moved from LSM to close last season, was the leading non-faceoff man ground ball getter.
Maryland will also return junior Chris Brandau, who transferred in from Georgetown last season, and sophomore Logan McNaney in goal. Both have the potential to fill the starting role in 2021 and the competition between the two should be one of the more followed storylines around the nation as the season approaches. Brandau started four games last season and McNaney started two.
In addition to a plethora of talent at close defense and in goal, the Terrapins also have one heck of a LSM room. Maryland added Yale transfer BJ Burlace, who is caused turnover machine, transition junkie, and draws comparisons to former Terp Matt Neufeldt, and returns sophomore Justin Sherrer, junior Michael Ubriaco, and sophomore Connor Whalen.
Sherrer served as their top LSM last season, recoding six ground balls and four caused turnovers. Whalen saw action in one game and Ubriaco, who transferred in following a stellar freshman campaign at Villanova, took a redshirt year following an injury in the preseason.
If Ubriaco stays healthy, Sherrer continues his impressive play and improves, Burlace lives up to the hype, and Whalen can find ways to contribute, Maryland could very well have one of the scariest LSM units in the nation this year and possibly over the next few seasons as well. They have a variation of weapons that they can use is a multitude of ways, including moving one or more of these guys to close defense.
At the faceoff dot, the Terrapins will return their primary option from a year ago in senior Justin Shockey. He went 76-for-122 (62%) in five contests last season. Sophomore Connor Calderone and senior Joel Trucksess will also return after serving as the second and third option last season. Calderone played in three games and Trucksess played in one.