COLLEGE PARK — The Mount St. Mary's and Maryland men's lacrosse teams entered their season opener with numerous questions. It was the Terps who walked away with a little more clarity.
No. 11 Maryland scored 11 goals in the first half and cruised to a 16-3 thrashing of the visiting Mountaineers before an announced 1,203 at Byrd Stadium on Saturday.
Before the game, the Terps were one of several teams in Division I surrounded by uncertainty.
How would a starting attack that graduated Kevin Cooper and Owen Blye fare? Freshman Matt Rambo recorded four goals and two assists in his collegiate debut, junior Jay Carlson posted a hat trick, and sophomore Kevin Forster added an assist.
Could a first midfield that bade farewell to John Haus and Jake Bernhardt find complements to returning senior Mike Chanenchuk? Chanenchuk's three goals and one assist were aided on Saturday by two goals and one assist from freshman Connor Cannizzaro and one goal from junior Joe LoCascio.
And how would a defensive midfield that graduated Jesse Bernhardt at long pole and Landon Carr at short stick gel? Senior Michael Ehrhardt, who moved from close defense to long-stick midfielder, and sophomore Nick Manis joined senior Brian Cooper at short stick to limit Mount St. Mary's starting midfield to one goal and one assist (both by sophomore Robert Jones).
Maryland still must develop a third midfield, take advantage of more opportunities in transition, and acclimate freshman attackman Tim Rotanz and midfielder Colin Heacock when they return from injury. But Saturday's convincing victory was a nice beginning for the Terps, who claimed their 21st consecutive season-opening win.
"We'll see how we go," coach John Tillman said. "I still think there's a lot for us to prove. There are so many good challenges ahead of us. We'll find out. … We're going to face teams that have more experience, and that will be a big, stiff test for us."
Added Chanenchuk: "I think a lot of people are doubting us, and that just gives us a little chip on our shoulders. Mount St. Mary's is a pretty good team. We didn't really know what to expect because they graduated a lot of guys. So, coming out and playing well together as a team, playing our brand of lacrosse, was what the game plan was, and I think we did a pretty good job of that."
Maryland scored the game's first five goals, opening a 5-0 advantage in the first 9 minutes, 25 seconds. The Mountaineers scored twice in the final four minutes of the period, but the Terps responded with eight unanswered goals in the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach and improve to 11-0 in their all-time series with Mount St. Mary's.
The six points by Rambo were the most by a player making his Maryland debut since Feb. 28, 2004 when attackman Xander Ritz, then a sophomore transfer from Delaware, accrued seven points on three goals and four assists in a 14-5 rout of Georgetown.
"I didn't know it was going to happen," said Rambo, who was ranked second nationally as a senior at La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, Pa., by Inside Lacrosse. "I was just going to play hard and fast and whatever happened, happens. I was just trying to make the right play."
Senior goalkeeper Niko Amato was rarely tested and made just seven saves. He was replaced at the start of the fourth quarter by junior Kyle Bernlohr, who finished with four stops.
Unlike a season-opening 23-6 loss to the Terps on Feb. 12 last season, Mount St. Mary's kept the score closer than expected considering that the team had graduated players responsible for 148 of last year's 155 goals.
Jones paced the Mountaineers with two points, but senior goalie Chris Klaiber was pulled in favor of sophomore Frankie McCarthy with 10:52 left in the second quarter after surrendering eight goals and making seven saves. McCarthy allowed eight goals and also made seven stops.
Coach Tom Gravante said he anticipated a rough start for his young team.
"It's early in the season," he said. "So, you can't jump to conclusions. Overall, we're a young team. I think we played a lot of guys — maybe not as much as Maryland — but we played a lot of guys, and we have to. We have to build a little bit of depth."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun