The Maryland men’s lacrosse player with the nickname bestowed because of how much he weighed as a newborn proved to be too overwhelming for Villanova as well.
Sophomore midfielder Bubba Fairman amassed career highs in goals (four) and points (six) to spark the No. 6 Terps to a 17-7 rout of the visiting Wildcats before an announced 3,655 at Maryland Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Maryland (7-1), which has won two straight since a 14-13 overtime loss at then-No. 17 Notre Dame on March 3, spread the wealth with at least two points each from eight different players. Junior attackman Jared Bernhardt’s three goals and two assists, and sophomore midfielder Anthony DeMaio’s two goals and one assist paced that group.
But the Terps’ most lethal threat was Fairman, whose formal name is Cole and was given the “Bubba” nickname because he weighed 13 pounds at birth. With midfielders Connor Kelly and Tim Rotanz having graduated, Fairman has found himself matched up against defense’s top long-stick midfielders, which he is still growing accustomed to.
“It’s different,” the Utah resident said. “I grew up playing attack all my life, so I was somewhat comfortable with it. But being up top, it’s totally different. … I’ve just kind of learned the little points through and through. I like to think I’ve gotten a little better at dodging a D-pole up top.”
Fairman was especially dangerous Saturday when he was inverting, attacking the defense from behind the cage instead of dodging from up top. His first goal of the game, which was also Maryland’s first, came off a curl around the right post and a spin back to his right for a jump shot over freshman goalkeeper Will Vitton just 1:56 into the first quarter.
His second goal involved another curl around the right post with 7:39 left in the second frame. Then he scored his third and fourth goals off nearly identical moves around the left post that gave the Terps a 14-4 advantage with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter.
Fairman credited offensive coordinator J.L. Reppert with directing him to use his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame against 5-10, 170-pound Villanova freshman long-stick midfielder Michael Ubriaco (Boys’ Latin).
“He just felt like I had a decent amount of size on the kid,” Fairman said. “The kid had a really good stick and really played well on-ball. But Coach thought I could get pretty physical with him. So that’s what I tried to do.
Maryland coach John Tillman pointed out the offense often went to the invert with Kelly last season.
“Bubba is a guy that’s really comfortable in so many different places,” he said. “It allows us to kind of see if maybe we feel like we have an advantage there or it allows us to maybe move another guy up top like Jared, and Jared’s so good out in space. Depending on what we’re trying to do and maybe some of the things we’re seeing from the defenders, Bubba’s flexibility is huge for us.”
While the offense found plenty of opportunities to score goals, the defense kept the Wildcats at bay. Taking advantage of a unit playing without senior attackman Joey Froccaro (seven goals and two assists) for undisclosed reasons, the Terps held Villanova to four goals below their season average.
Graduate student goalie Danny Dolan made 13 saves, including six in the first quarter that involved turning back senior midfielder Chris Donovan when he was standing alone on the right side of the crease with sophomore midfielder Eric Overbay on the left side.
Dolan downplayed the notion that his stops inspired the defense, saying, “I don’t really like to think about it like that. Next shot — good or bad — I just kind of want to focus on the next one. It’s not really anything that can do [something] for me. It’s great to make those saves, but it’s good also to not have your confidence be based off of saves in general.”
Sophomore Dan Fisher’s 15-for-25 effort on faceoffs helped the Wildcats win 59.3 percent of the draws, but coach Mike Corrado’s team could not dig out of an 11-2 deficit at halftime.
“They just kind of got on a roll, and we didn’t get many stops in that first quarter and kind of got behind,” Corrado said. “And against a team like that, it’s really hard to catch up. I think they’re just a really strong team — from the front line to the back line. When you get behind like that, you start pressing and you make turnovers, and it was tough once we got down 6-1 in that first quarter.”
Villanova 1 1 3 2 — 7
Maryland 6 5 5 1 — 17
Goals: V—Campbell 2, Kirst 2, McManus 2, Gabrielsen; M— Fairman 4, Bernhardt 3, DeMaio 2, Wisnauskas 2, Dubick 2, Janeck, Long, Pugliese, Zawadzki. Assists: V—Khan 2, Gabrielsen, Gallahue, Kirst, Overbay; M—Bernhardt 2, Fairman 2, DeMaio, Long, Pugliese, Zawadzki. Saves: V—Vitton 4; M—Dolan 13, Morris 3.