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Matt Dunn (foot surgery) gearing up to play in season opener for Maryland men's lacrosse

Maryland's Matt Dunn defends as Notre Dame's Matt Kavanagh looks to shoot in the first half of an NCAA semifinal lacrosse game Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Baltimore.
Maryland's Matt Dunn defends as Notre Dame's Matt Kavanagh looks to shoot in the first half of an NCAA semifinal lacrosse game Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Baltimore. (Gail Burton / Associated Press)

Maryland senior defenseman Matt Dunn is the first to listen to the team's training staff when it comes to his recovery from foot surgery in September. But the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Towson resident and Loyola Blakefield graduate is champing at the bit to play in the Feb. 13 season opener against Navy at Maryland Stadium in College Park.

"I respect anything our training staff says. I've worked with them for four years, and I've come to understand that they know what they're doing," he said Friday at the team's media day inside Xfinity Center. "I trust them. But as of right now, I'm pushing to do everything, and I think I'll be playing."

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Dunn tore a tendon in his left foot during a noncontact drill in practice. After undergoing surgery, he used crutches for two weeks, wore a boot for another three and didn't begin putting significant weight on the foot until he started jogging in December.

Asked if he thought he might have incurred a season-ending injury, Dunn replied, "I was definitely a little nervous. Luckily, it happened so early that I had faith that with our great training staff and the resources that we have, we would be able to work our way to get back. But I was definitely a little concerned with something like that happening."

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Dunn's presence is important. With the graduation of first-team All-American defenseman Casey Ikeda, Dunn – who registered 13 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers in 15 starts last spring – returns as the most experienced defenseman on the roster. Redshirt senior Greg Danseglio has played longer, but this season will mark the Virginia transfer's debut with the Terps, who went 15-4 and advanced to the NCAA tournament final before losing to Denver a season ago.

Dunn, who will be flanked by redshirt senior goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr, junior defenseman Mac Pons, junior short-stick defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen and sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Adam DiMillo, shrugged off the notion that he will have to lead the defense.

"The way we work things, it's not one guy at the top and everybody else behind," he said. "It's really a collaborative effort and just having that experience maybe points me in that position, but I have faith that other guys are going to step up. We get along great, and we all have the same goals in mind. … I think as a group, we don't feel pressure. We definitely feel an urgency knowing that repeating the great efforts we had last year is not easy. So we're definitely not complacent, but we're confident that we're able to do it understanding the work that is going to have to go into it."

Dunn has not been limited in practice this preseason, and coach John Tillman said the plan is to play Dunn against Navy.

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"I think he's progressing," Tillman said. "We see him as on par for where we want him to be for the opener. We're being obviously very, very careful with him, knowing what he means to us. But he seems to be progressing nicely for the opener."

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