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Maryland's defense in state of flux

It’s not a stretch to say that the evolving state of the defense will be a prominent storyline for Maryland in 2012. That’s what happens when a unit graduates all three starting close defensemen (Brett Schmidt, Max Schmidt, Ryder Bohlander), a starting long-stick midfielder (Brian Farrell) and one of two starting short-stick defensive midfielders (Dan Burns).

But the cupboard isn’t bare. Junior Jesse Bernhardt, who recorded two goals, two assists, 44 groundballs and 16 caused turnovers while backing up Farrell at long-stick midfielder, is a candidate to shift to close defense, and coach John Tillman has been impressed with what he has seen from players like sophomores Michael Ehrhardt, Emmett Cahill and Taylor Morgan and freshman Goran Murray.

“We’re getting there,” Tillman said. “We know what we have in Jesse Bernhardt, and it’s a matter of where do we play him because we think he’s one of the best out there. He’s certainly got the raw ability, but he’s a guy that fights for it every day, very dedicated, very committed. And then after him, we’ve got some guys that are really fighting for opportunities. Some guys will emerge.”

The dilemma about moving Bernhardt to close defense means that the coaches must search for a new long-stick midfielder. Tillman said Morgan, a transfer from Syracuse, and Murray could fill that role.

Junior Landon Carr (7 goals, 1 assist, 21 groundballs and 10 caused turnovers) returns as a starting short-stick defensive midfielder, but seniors Scott LaRue (3, 3, 17 groundballs) and Michael Shakespeare (1, 1, 18 groundballs) are in the mix.

“[Shakespeare] has played some D-middie, [senior] David Miller has played some D-middie, [junior] Landon Carr has played some D-middie. [Senior] Patrick Morrison is a guy that’s been waiting for his opportunity,” Tillman said. “… So we’re excited about those guys.”

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