He did not start in Wednesday’s 12-11 win at No. 5 Albany or pick up a ground ball or cause a turnover, but the 2017 debut of senior defenseman Mac Pons was a noteworthy development for No. 3 Maryland.
The Bel Air resident and Boys’ Latin graduate sat out the first nine games of the season with what coach John Tillman described as a lower body injury. During a pre-game ceremony honoring the senior class prior to Saturday’s 15-11 victory over No. 7 Penn State at Maryland Stadium in College Park, Pons wore a brace on his right knee.
Pons was finally cleared by the university’s medical staff and played a few minutes of Wednesday’s game.
“He’s looked very good in practice,” Tillman said Thursday. “They’ve been very careful and understandably so. They’re also going to defer on taking it slow so that Mac doesn’t have a setback. He’s looked very good. I think what really helps is that Mac is a very smart player, and he’s dealt with some injuries throughout his career. So he’s done a nice job of always understanding where he is physically and not trying to do too much.”
Pons is a two-year starter for the Terps (8-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten), but with senior Tim Muller, junior Bryce Young, and sophomore Curtis Corley starting for a defense that ranks 18th in Division I at 9.1 goals per game, Tillman acknowledged that inserting Pons into the starting lineup might be difficult.
“I think right now, it would be hard," Tillman said. "We’ll play it by ear, and we’ll always do what the team needs first, but I think it would be hard to just slide him into the starting lineup on Sunday [at No. 11 Rutgers]. If things play out and he’s obviously one of the very best at some point this year and deserves to be one of the starters, that’s something we’ll have to consider. But I just think we’re getting really good efforts from the three guys that are playing down low right now. But you know how it is. Towards the end of the year with the weather changing and with the nature of the physical play in the league, you just never know what’s going to happen. So to have just another tool in the toolkit is really helpful.”