Attackman Matt Rambo garnered headlines with his four-goal, two-assist performance in No. 11 Maryland’s 16-3 season-opening thumping of visiting Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday. But he wasn’t the only freshman to contribute in his collegiate debut.
Midfielder Connor Cannizzaro had two goals and one assist in his first start, attackman Ben Chisolm (South River) added one goal, and midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen collected two ground balls and took two shots as a member of the second line.
In addition, midfielder John Belz (Calvert Hall) scooped up three ground balls and caused one turnover, and defensemen Mac Pons (Boys’ Latin) and Tim Muller each picked up a ground ball.
Those numbers may not be eye-popping, but that's not necessarily what coach John Tillman is looking for.
“The big thing we tried to emphasize to those guys all along was that nobody had to win the game,” he said of his freshman class. “Just do the things that we’re coaching you to do. And if you play fast, trust your instincts, trust your teammates and we’ll be fine. I think sometimes when you have some new parts, there’s a tendency to go, ‘All right, I need to make a play.’ Not really. If we all just hit singles and we all do the little things right, the big things will take care of themselves, and we do have a very unselfish group, a group that [is] willing to make the extra pass. So I knew that. Now it’s just a matter of trying to get those guys put in good spots and hopefully maximize what their potential is.”
The spotlight has been trained on the freshman group, one of the most heralded in the country, since it came to campus in the fall, but Cannizzaro said the rookies are comfortable enough to seek out their older teammates for help.
“The older guys take us under their wings and talk us through every situation and make us feel like they have everything, and we just have to play and not worry about anything else,” he said. “We don’t really feel it. We just want to come in and do everything we can to help the team.”
Rambo pointed out that once the whistle blows, class designations are no longer a consideration.
“Everyone on the field, we’re all together,” he said. “There aren’t really any classes anymore when we get out there. There’s no freshmen, there’s no seniors. You know who you are, but if you’re going to be on the field, they expect you to play like a senior.”
*The freshman class made its debut without attackmen Tim Rotanz and Colin Heacock (Boys’ Latin). Both players stood on the sideline while dealing with unspecified injuries, but Tillman was hopeful that he would get some good news about them next week. Asked whether he was concerned that their injuries could linger deep into the season, Tillman said: “No, I don’t think it will be long-term for either guy. We’ll find out more with both those guys, but they’re both making progress, which is good. I’d love to have a few of those guys right now.”
*With All-America long-stick midfielder Jesse Bernhardt having graduated, one issue the Terps wrestled with was finding his successor. The answer came in the form of senior Michael Ehrhardt, who moved up from his usual close-defense spot. Ehrhardt’s move allowed sophomore Matt Dunn to join juniors Goran Murray and Casey Ikeda as starting defensemen. Ehrhardt finished with a game-high three caused turnovers and three ground balls, and Dunn collected one ground ball while limiting Mountaineers freshman attackman Ryan Lamon (Severn) to one goal. “Matt Dunn’s really steady and consistent, and I know what we’re going to get from him,” Tillman said. “Ehrhardt has a very professional approach, is the best way to describe it. He’s a guy that is always focused. He always is trying to do a little extra, whether that’s what he does individually or what he’s doing in the film room. But he’s also a good leader, trying to make the guys around him better. Those guys, I was pleased with. I liked their communication.”
*Mount St. Mary’s decision to pull senior goalkeeper Chris Klaiber in the second quarter for sophomore Frankie McCarthy could be attributed to the Terps’ ability to expose the Mountaineers' defense for high-percentage chances. But coach Tom Gravante acknowledged that he is contemplating starting McCarthy when the team visits Georgetown on Wednesday. “We have two days to prepare for Georgetown,” Gravante said. “It’s going to remain a question as to which one we’re going to start. Right now, I’m bending toward Frankie. I saw some better things from him than from Chris, but it remains to be announced until we give these guys a good chance [in practice]. … The goalie situation is the toughest position on the field, especially mentally. I think as a coach, it’s a little bit different how you bring those guys along.”