Among the variety of factors that contributed to Maryland's single-season record of 17 wins in 2016 and fourth appearance in the last six NCAA tournament finals, the play of a certain threesome proved to be as vital as any other unit on the field.

The second midfield of Pat Young, Tim Rotanz, and Lucas Gradinger combined for 32 goals and 16 assists including seven goals and two assists in the team's first three games in the NCAA tournament. That the trio was unable to post a goal or an assist in the 14-13 overtime loss to North Carolina in the title game is indicative of the attention the Tar Heels defense paid to that line.

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But more than the numbers, the second midfield solidified an offense that ranked 15th in Division I at 11.6 goals per game.

"I think any coach would tell you that you can't get through the year with just one midfield," coach John Tillman said. "If you look at the stats of our second midfield, the stats don't blow you away because there were a couple games where their numbers weren't that big. So it wasn't like those guys were giving us four or five goals per game. But they were giving us quality minutes. They were putting pressure on the defense and proving opportunities. There was a sense of confidence from everybody that the group was very capable. I think it also takes a little bit of pressure off of that first group, and there are going to be days when maybe some guys just aren't going to be playing as well."

That's why the Terps are intent on building another line that can be as effective. Some candidates include senior Ben Chisolm (South River), junior Christian Zawadzki, and freshmen Jack Wilson and Jared Bernhardt.

There is also some talk that Rotanz or Gradinger – who are now redshirt juniors – could remain on the second midfield instead of joining junior Connor Kelly on the first line. Tillman said the underlying consideration is striking a balance between the two units.

"You would like to have players that have different strengths and weaknesses, which allows you more versatility with the offense," he said. "You want a group that if you're playing against zone, they would be able to attack a zone in a pretty good way. You don't want to have too many straight dodgers where everybody needs the ball. You would like to have some guys that are finishers. You'd like to have a strong right-handed and left-handed presence. And then you also need to think about how if you lose the ball, you want to have some guys that you have confidence in defensively. I feel like that was something that was a strength for both of those groups last year. If we did lose the ball and we had to go back and play defense, for the most part, most of those guys were good athletes that they could get back and play defense. … So it is a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle."

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