With just five regular-season contests and the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament remaining on the regular schedule, time is running out on Maryland’s Jake Bernhardt to return from a left shoulder injury that has sidelined the senior midfielder since the preseason.
For now, coach John Tillman’s approach is that Bernhardt, who registered 14 goals and three assists as a starter last season, will not return this season.
“We’re preparing that he’s never coming back, knowing that if he does, those are some good problems to have,” Tillman said Tuesday. “It’s like, ‘OK, now we have some other things we can do.’ … We haven’t talked about it because our focus is, we’ve got to coach up the guys who are here and the guys that are healthy. I just feel for Jake. We’ll figure some things out, but he’s such a good kid and a hard worker.”
Bernhardt could apply for a medical redshirt and regain a year of eligibility for next season. But Tillman said he is unsure whether there is money in the program’s budget to subsidize a fifth year for Bernhardt, who will also have to discuss financial options with his family.
That’s why Tillman said he won’t impose a deadline on Bernhardt to make a decision.
“I don’t feel like it’s my place to go, ‘Here’s what you’re going to do,’” Tillman said. “I want him to be either really excited to come back to this year’s team or really excited about coming back to next year’s team, and I think he’s going to have to come to terms with that on his own.”