Prior to the current lacrosse season, Maryland’s players gathered to vote on team captains. The only representative from the defense was junior long-stick midfielder Jesse Bernhardt, and it’s a role he is relishing.
“It’s something I embrace,” he said recently. “I enjoy being a captain. It’s a great privilege that I was picked by my peers to be in that situation. I really do enjoy it.”
The Terps defense was ravaged by graduation, which sapped the unit of three close defensemen, the long-stick midfielder and one of two short-stick defensive midfielders. That meant that Bernhardt and junior short-stick defensive midfielder Landon Carr returned as the defense’s most experienced players.
Bernhardt acknowledged that there was some pressure to anchor a youthful unit.
“I think there has been a little more than the past years because we had such a senior-laden, older group,” he said. “So yeah, there’s a little more pressure and uncertainty from not knowing who was going to be down there playing with me.”
Bernhardt has been living up to the expectations. He leads the defense in caused turnovers (14) and is tied with redshirt sophomore goalie Niko Amato for the team lead in groundballs (27).
Perhaps more importantly, Bernhardt has been a valuable resource for first-year starting close defensemen Michael Ehrhardt, Brian Cooper and Goran Murray.
“Fall ball was a great time for us because that’s when you get to work all the kinks out before the season comes up,” Bernhardt said. “I felt it then more than now. They were asking a lot of questions and stuff, getting some extra work. From that time to where we are now, they’ve grown up tremendously, being able to help each other out and help other guys out. So I think they’ve done a good job with that.”