Saturday’s matchup between No. 1 Loyola and No. 3 Maryland is easily the biggest game of the early stages of the season. It’s a rematch of last year’s NCAA tournament final in which the Greyhounds won, 9-3, and took home the university’s first Division I national championship.
Despite the link to last season’s national title game, several Terps players insisted this week that their goal is not to avenge the loss to Loyola.
“We try not to look at it in that sense,” senior midfielder John Haus said. “This year is a completely different year. We have different guys and they have different guys. There’s a little carryover with some of the same guys, but for the most part, these are completely different teams doing different things. So we try to look at it as a new year, a new game, a new season.”
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Coach John Tillman said prior to the start of the season that he did not sense any anger on part of the players.
“I think they feel like they haven’t finished and they haven’t achieved everything they’ve set out to do,” he said. “I think when you’re in a conference, you’d love to win your conference, and we weren’t able to do that last year. When you get to a game and you end the season on a loss – and all but one will – I think getting that close and feeling that heartbreak, they’re motivated to try to take one more step. Anybody that is involved in athletics, to be successful, you need to be competitive, and I think if you are a competitor, you want to try to do everything you can to put yourself in a position where you can achieve the ultimate goal. That’s the goal for a lot of teams, and everybody’s working real hard to get there. So we’ve tried to look at every area of our program and try to figure out how we can get a little bit better.”
About the only concession that could be distilled from the Maryland locker room came from senior long-stick midfielder Jesse Bernhardt, who acknowledged “a sour taste” from the loss to the Greyhounds. But he quickly returned to the team-wide mantra.
“It’s a new season, it’s a new team, and it’s just our third game into the season,” Bernhardt said. “We do have returners for each team and stuff like that, but it’s not the same. So to me, it’s totally different.”