Maryland’s midfield was applauded as one of the deepest in Division I last year, and that unit could be just as versatile thanks to the return of Jake Bernhardt.
Bernhardt, a fifth-year senior, broke his left collarbone in a scrimmage at Loyola on Feb. 4 and underwent surgery. He tried to make a comeback, practicing on a limited basis in April. But after consulting with his parents and coach John Tillman, he elected to redshirt last season.
Bernhardt is back, and Tillman said the midfielder has looked good in the fall and preseason.
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“Jake’s been great,” Tillman said. “I think he learned a lot last year off the field, just watching on all levels. He really did a great job of leading when he wasn’t involved. He stayed engaged when other guys with injuries step away and feel isolated. Jake did as good a job of anyone I’ve ever seen. Although he was hurt, he tried to find ways to help the team. But while he was watching, he really learned a lot more about the intricacies of defense, the subtleties of wing play, and offensively, he had a little more attention to the detail that we’re looking for just because he wasn’t able to go out and just play. He did more in terms of filmwork on his own.”
Bernhardt posted 15 goals and three assists as a member of the first line in 2011, and he also collected 19 groundballs. Perhaps more importantly, Bernhardt provides a level of leadership to a team that graduated attackman Joe Cummings and midfielders Drew Snider and Michael Shakespeare.
“He leads by example,” Tillman said of Bernhardt. “He’s very vocal. I wouldn’t say that we replaced Joe and Drew. Yet, some of the things that we lost to graduation, I think a guy like Jake is able to see that there’s a little bit of a void there and that’s where Jake can fill in and help make the team better.”