Review & preview: Maryland men's lacrosse

A look at the 2014 season for the Terps and a glimpse into 2015

June 10, 2014|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Here is the seventh and final installment of a series that checks in with the seven Division I programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and the future. Teams are scheduled to appear according to the chronological order in which their seasons ended. Monday’s visit was with Johns Hopkins. Tuesday’s visit is with Maryland.

REVIEW

The good: For the third time in four years under coach John Tillman, the Terps (13-4 overall and 4-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) advanced to the NCAA tournament semifinals. They also extended their streak of double-digit win seasons to 12, which is the longest active streak in Division I. The ending left a lot to be desired, but Tillman appreciated the effort the players and coaches put into the journey.

“You’re always conflicted as a coach because you have some goals you’d like to achieve, and you’d like to achieve all of those goals,” Tillman said. “You also realize that getting to championship weekend is really difficult and getting there is not lost on myself or the coaches.”

**That the team played for a chance to advance to the title game was somewhat surprising when taking into account that the offense had graduated four starters and the defense had bade farewell to its starting first-team, All-American long-stick midfielder (Jesse Bernhardt) and an honorable-mention All-American short-stick defensive midfielder (Landon Carr). Picked to finish last in the ACC, Maryland shared the regular-season title with eventual national champion Duke and earned the top seed in the league tournament.

“We understood that we were ranked the way we were ranked because we had so many unknowns,” Tillman said. “I think people looked at the other teams we were playing and the other teams in our league, and they had more knowns and more returning players, and based on that, they made decisions that I can’t blame them for. … I think we realized that to be successful, we were going to have to work really hard. It wasn’t so much a slight. Everybody realized that we had a lot of unknowns and that we had to really work hard to maximize our potential and that if we could maximize our potential, we’d have a chance.”

**Except for senior attackman Mike Chanenchuk, the offense featured five new faces in the starting lineup. The lineup included two freshmen (attackmen Matt Rambo and Connor Cannizzaro) and one sophomore (midfielder Henry West), but Tillman said a unit that dealt with some growing pains played well enough to rank 18th in the country in scoring at 11.4 goals per game.

“Offensively, although we were inconsistent at times more than I think we would like, we understood that we had a lot of new parts down there and that lends itself to some inconsistency,” he said. “Yet, I think our guys played very unselfishly and played very hard. We just didn’t execute as well as we could have, and as coaches, we’ve got to do a better job of helping those guys going forward.”

The bad: Maryland’s hopes for its first national championship since 1975 crashed in an 11-6 loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament semifinals. So the drought continues for a storied program that is 9-16 in the Final Four since 1976.

“When you get that close and when you’re a competitive person, you’d love to get two more [wins] because you’ve gotten to that stage,” Tillman said. “I think we would have loved to have played better on Saturday. We just felt like we didn’t go out the way we would have liked to have gone out in terms of our execution.”

**En route to a 7-0 start, the offense averaged 13.1 goals and scored double digits in every game. Over the final 10 contests, the unit averaged 10.1 and was held to under 10 goals six times. Tillman said integrating new players to the schemes took some adjustment by the players and coaches alike.

“Offensively, we kind of knew what we wanted to do with that group,” he said. “It was just a matter of how quickly those guys would grow up. We really tried to get a feel for what those guys were best at, and we just had so many either freshmen of new players in different roles. It was a challenge constantly to put them in roles where we felt like they could be at their best.”

**The Terps’ top offensive reserve was junior attackman Jay Carlson, a St. Paul’s graduate who made nine starts and recorded 26 goals and five assists. But after Carlson, no other backup player scored more than six goals or finished with more than 12 points. The lack of production was especially noticeable in the second midfield, and Tillman acknowledged that the unit was at times hit-or-miss.

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