Mike Chanenchuk is not invincible, and he’s smart enough to realize that.
Maryland’s leading scorer was limited by an injured ankle in the Terps’ 12-6 victory over Navy on Saturday, but surely, he would be willing and able for Saturday’s NCAA tournament first-round game against Cornell at 5 p.m. at Byrd Stadium in College Park, right?
Not necessarily, Chanenchuk said.
“I can’t say that, just because it’s kind of day-to-day right now,” the attackman said Tuesday afternoon. “Obviously, I’m a senior and it’s the playoffs, and I want to do everything I can to play. But when it comes down to it, if I’m going to go out there and hurt our chances of winning, I don’t think the coaches or trainers or myself would let that happen. … I’d like to think that I wouldn’t hurt the team, but with any type of injury, if it’s going to affect me to the point where I can’t run, I can’t dodge, I don’t think that’s going to help anyone.”
Some might speculate that Chanenchuk, with 28 goals and 16 assists this season, would be better than some of his teammates, even in a state where he is less than 100 percent. But with a starting attack of freshmen Matt Rambo and Connor Cannizzaro and junior Jay Carlson (St. Paul's), the offense scored 12 times against the Midshipmen.
Like Chanenchuk, coach John Tillman said his priority is seventh-seeded Maryland’s success as a team, not as individuals.
“Knowing that we were playing a team that had been holding other groups down pretty well, without Michael’s presence out there, we needed some other guys to step up, we needed some more leadership, and I thought some of our guys did a good job of that at times,” Tillman said on Tuesday morning during his weekly conference call. “… Michael’s meant a lot to us this year, but we did feel like it was an opportunity for some other guys to assert themselves and emerge as leaders.”
As is customary, Chanenchuk did not practice on Monday. But he did say that limiting his playing time on Saturday helped his ankle.
“I think playing a whole game on it wouldn’t have helped,” Chanenchuk said. “It was senior day, and the coaches wanted me to kind of get in there and start the game and thought I could maybe help a little bit on man-up with kind of directing traffic out there. Yeah, I would definitely say that it helped a lot, limiting it last week.”