Connor Kelly’s one-point outing in the top-seeded Maryland men’s lacrosse team’s 13-8 victory over Cornell in an NCAA Division I tournament quarterfinal at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Sunday marked only the second time this season that the senior midfielder had not produced a multipoint game.
But even with the Tewaaraton Award finalist having an uncharacteristically quiet day, the Terps (14-3) waltzed past the Big Red (13-5) because they drew points from other sources.
Freshman midfielder Bubba Fairman led the way with three goals and two assists, sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt added three goals and one assist, and redshirt freshman attackman Logan Wisnauskas contributed two goals and two assists. The diversity of points was a welcomed development for coach John Tillman.
“Tells you that we have a lot of good players, a lot of unselfish guys,” he said. “It says a lot about Connor. I just talked to him a little bit before, and he just said, ‘I didn’t feel like I had to go crazy because guys were doing well and I didn’t really feel like I wanted to push too hard because things were working and clicking.’ It’s almost a little like, on the other side, certainly, they’re not shutting Connor, but Connor draws a lot of attention just like [Cornell sophomore attackman] Jeff Teat does. At times, everybody’s a little bit better because Connor’s on the field.
“Whether you stretch out a little too far and maybe the inside is a little soft or maybe you slide too fast and he throws it and now all of a sudden, somebody’s open maybe on the backside, I thought he really did a nice job of letting the game come today.”
Perhaps an even more encouraging sign is that 10 of Maryland’s 13 goals and six of the team’s 10 assists came from freshmen and sophomores.
“Our coaches always talk about peaking at the right time, and I don’t think we’ve really peaked yet,” Fairman said. “I think we’re coming along leaps and bounds. I think the older guys do such a good job of taking us under their wing and kind of preparing us for big moments like today.”