Attackmen Logan Wisnauskas and Jared Bernhardt combined for six goals and two assists, but it was the play of unheralded players that resonated deeply in the No. 3 Maryland men’s lacrosse team’s 11-6 victory over Bucknell on Saturday afternoon.
Senior midfielder Christian Zawadzki scored the Terps’ opening goal in the first start of his career, senior attackman Louis Dubick added a goal and an assist in only his second career start, and sophomore midfielder Anthony DeMaio chipped in two goals and one assist off the bench.
Defensively, Maryland got a lift from senior goalkeeper Danny Dolan, who made a game-high 11 saves in his debut as the starter, and freshman defenseman Brett Makar, who had two ground balls and one caused turnover in his first start.
Their contributions were especially gratifying for coach John Tillman, who acknowledged earlier in the week that he was curious to see how the team would fare in its season opener without departed midfielders Connor Kelly and Tim Rotanz, defenseman Bryce Young and goalie Dan Morris.
“I think as a coach, you always have things that you want to make sure that you focus on, but I had a lot of confidence in this group just because of the way they’ve approached things and the leadership that we have,” Tillman said after the win before an announced 1,888 at Maryland Stadium. “I think, like most coaches, you have concerns about: Did we cover enough? Did we prep them hard enough? But I think these guys were ready. The guys that maybe hadn’t been household names, they’ve been working really hard since August, and we really felt like when they got the opportunity, they were going to make the most of it.”
Zawadzki’s goal on a blast from the left point — his first since March 24, 2015 — not only helped Maryland (1-0) even the score at 1 with 6:32 left in the first quarter, but it also set the tone for what Wisnauskas said should be a multipronged approach on offense.
“It’s not on anyone” to produce, the former Boys’ Latin star said. “It’s not on me, it’s not on Jared, it’s really not on anyone. We play six-on-six for a reason. We play as a group, we play as a unit. I guess, Louis took the reins. Now he’s communicating to us. He’s making sure we know what we’re in and what we’re doing and making sure we’re executing.”
The Terps’ stars come out, too. Wisnauskas, a sophomore who had 35 goals and 15 assists as a last season, paced the Terps with four goals and one assist, and Bernhardt, a junior, had two goals and one assist. But Bernhardt, who finished the 2018 season with 40 goals and 16 assists, was shut out in the first half by a Bucknell defense that initially appeared intent on forcing someone else to ignite the offense.
“That’s kind of what we’re hoping for,” Tillman said. “When they put too much an emphasis on some of our veteran guys like [sophomore midfielder] Bubba [Fairman] or Logan or Jared, I think we have a lot of other capable guys like [Zawadzki] and Louis Dubick that really can do some damage.”
Makar, a highly touted recruit, limited Bison freshman attackman Matthew Barkauskas to one goal on three shots. But perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Dolan, a transfer from Massachusetts who had backed up Morris for the past two years.
After making only one save in the first two quarters, Dolan made 10 in the second half to shut the door on a potential comeback from Bucknell (0-1).
“He’s the life of our defense,” said senior defenseman Curtis Corley, who had two ground balls and one caused turnover. “He’s energetic all the time. He’s making saves, he’s telling us what we’ve got to do. If a goal is scored on us, he’ll bring us right in, and he’s telling us what we’ve got to do. He really understands what we’ve got to do as a defense. So he’s really good addition to have in there.”
Notes: Senior Austin Henningsengot the start at the faceoff X for Maryland, but sophomore Justin Shockey proved more effective, winning eight of 11 draws. Tillman acknowledged that there was a risk in throwing Shockey out onto the field against Bison senior Jarett Witzal, who knows Shockey from when they played together at Bethesda’s Landon School.
“We didn’t know how that would go,” Tillman said. “You’ve got a guy who’s a couple years older that might have a little something to prove. But then you’ve got a younger guy who’s technically pretty good. I thought all in all, Justin made some good decisions, and our wing play was pretty good.”
» The Terps did not appear too troubled by Bucknell’s 10-man ride, clearing the ball 18 times in 21 attempts. But they also committed a game-high 17 turnovers, which caught Tillman’s attention.
“We’ve just got to clean up our turnovers,” he said. “I think we had a ton of turnovers today. So if we can get better at that, which at this time of the year you hope that we can improve upon, the kids will stay focused. They’ve been a good group so far.”
» Maryland captured its 26th consecutive season-opening victory. The program has not dropped its first game since a 9-5 loss to Duke on March 6, 1993.