In the aftermath of No. 11 Maryland’s 14-3 pasting of UMBC on Saturday, Terps coach John Tillman dropped a comment that may not have resonated at the time, but it might be considered stunning after further review.
“Our first midfield is probably not the same as last year’s, but I would say that our top six guys are maybe collectively a little bit better than we were last year just in terms of what they bring to the table,” he said. “And part of that is making sure that we develop them and give them the opportunity because I think they’ve done well when they’ve gotten the opportunity.”
That’s quite a statement considering that last season’s first midfield had consisted of seniors John Haus and Jake Bernhardt – who both scored 17 goals and had 24 points – along with junior Mike Chanenchuk.
But outside of that starting trio, the midfield had trouble producing on a consistent basis. Joe LoCascio as a sophomore registered seven goals and four assists, but no other midfielder finished with more than six points.
Through two games this season, the first line of Chanenchuk (five goals and four assists), freshman Connor Cannizzaro (3, 2) and LoCascio (2, 1) are tied for first, tied for third and fifth, respectively, in points. But Maryland has also gotten contributions from junior Bryan Cole (1, 1), sophomore Henry West (2, 0), senior Tyler Adelsberger (1, 0) and freshman Lucas Gradinger (1, 0).
Tillman elaborated on that depth during his weekly conference call Tuesday morning.
“Maybe the gap between the first and the second isn’t quite as big as last year’s, so maybe that’s helpful,” he said. “Obviously, the guys that we did have were pretty special players in our regard and had certainly earned the right to be drafted and to be All Americans. We realize we’re just going to have to be different. This is a team that we can’t just really rely on one guy. We’re going to have to rely on everybody on the offensive end and everybody working together, and I do feel like it’s a very unselfish group and a group that will find the extra guy if they’re open. I think we’re going to continue to get better as we go and get a good sense of what they’re good at and what they’re comfortable with.”
Chanenchuk is tied with freshman attackman Matt Rambo for the team lead in points with nine each, and Rambo leads the offense in goals with seven. But Chanenchuk and junior attackman Jay Carlson have scored five goals each, and Rambo said there is enough distribution to make it difficult for opponents to center their defensive attention on one or two standouts.
“On offense, we don’t have a superstar,” he said. “We have a unit. That’s how it is in basketball and that’s what it’s like in lacrosse. We’re a team and we play as one. There’s no superstar. We’re going to distribute the ball. We’re not going to be selfish. We’re going to take the best shot.”