Bobby Benson would love to return to the Maryland men’s lacrosse program as the offensive coordinator, and head coach John Tillman would welcome him back with open arms. But there are a few obstacles complicating a second season together.
Benson, a former attackman and offensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins who helped shape the Terps (15-1) into the No. 2 offense in NCAA Division I and a runner-up for the national championship, is back in Atlanta with his wife, Taylor, and sons, Tucker and Griffin.
Taylor Benson is a director at BlackRock, an asset management firm with a corporate office in Atlanta. Whether Bobby Benson could manage another spring of flying between Baltimore or Washington and Atlanta is something he is considering.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “There was a lot of traveling. God bless my wife, and God bless my kids. I definitely missed more than I should, but they loved the University of Maryland, and my kids loved following the games and having all of their friends over to watch the games on TV. We’re just going with the flow, but it’s been an enjoyable ride. We’re hoping we can keep things going in the same direction, but that’s still something that has to go through the process.”
Benson was a three-time All-America attackman for the Blue Jays who graduated in 2003. After serving as the offensive coordinator at UMBC (2004-2005) and Loyola Maryland (2006), he returned to Johns Hopkins under former head coach Dave Pietramala and guided an offense that helped capture the national championship in 2007 and produced 37 All-Americans.
Under Benson’s direction, Maryland’s offense was headlined by attackman Jared Bernhardt, the 2021 Tewaaraton Award winner and Lt. Raymond J. Enners Outstanding Player of the Year honoree who set program records for goals (71) and points (99) in a single season and goals (202) and points (290) in a career.
Bernhardt was complemented by redshirt senior attackman Logan Wisnauskas, a Sykesville resident and Boys’ Latin graduate, a third-team All-America selection who became the seventh player in school history to reach 200 career points; junior midfielder Kyle Long, a second-team All American who was tied for second on the team in assists (28) and ranked fourth in points (44); and senior midfielders Anthony DeMaio and Bubba Fairman, a pair of honorable-mention All-Americans.
If Benson does return to the Terps, he would have more time to mold the offense rather than the 15 practices he had with the team before the 2021 season began. But he insisted that he would not tinker merely for the sake of tinkering.
“I don’t know if there are a lot of changes that need to be made to the Maryland lacrosse program,” he said. “They seem to be really successful. Every situation is different. You handle each situation the best you can. I hopefully was able to help out a little bit and help point them in the direction that led to a lot of success this year. Obviously, we would have liked to have won one more, but I’m hopeful I can come back and help the guys perform to the best of their abilities.”
Because Benson was an interim assistant coach, his position has to be reposted for applications. Tillman said he would keep an open mind about potential candidates, but said he appreciated Benson’s fit with the players and coaches.
“The longer he was here, the more he got comfortable with what parts we did have and what wrinkles and tweaks and adjustments he could make,” Tillman said. “All the while, I thought he was good at the little things with the guys, some subtle things with a new set of eyes. He could say to a guy, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about doing it this way?’ or ‘I’d like to work on this with you.’ So I think if we could get Bobby to come back for the full year, I think you would see a bigger impact with him.”
Right opportunity at right time for Pietramala
Dave Pietramala scratched the itch to return to coaching, but the former Johns Hopkins defenseman and head coach agreed to join new Syracuse men’s coach Gary Gait as his defensive coordinator rather than hold out for a head coaching vacancy elsewhere.
“In lacrosse, I just don’t see much transpiring in terms of movement in the head coaching position,” Pietramala said. “I’ve always said that I wanted to be somewhere where lacrosse is important, where they were passionate about it, where they cared about it, and where they have an opportunity to compete at the highest level, and Syracuse University and Syracuse lacrosse checks every one of those boxes.
“Two years out, where does that get me if I sit out another year? You become nothing more than irrelevant, and here I have a chance to coach at a high level at a program that is always relevant and that has goals and aspirations and standards that are very much like mine. So it was very easy.”
Pietramala’s signing with the Orange might raise questions about the college destination of his twin sons and Boys’ Latin juniors — Dominic, an attackman, and Nicholas, a defenseman — who agreed last fall to play for North Carolina, a Syracuse rival in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But Pietramala said he has not tried and will not try to sway his sons’ commitments to Tar Heels coach Joe Breschi.
“Those guys made the decision to go play for Joe down at Carolina,” he said. “They made that commitment, so that’s not something we really talk about. That would be an awful lot of pressure for a dad to put on two young men. So their focus right now is, they just finished up school, they’re just getting started with their summer, they’re getting ready for their season with the [Annapolis] Hawks, Nicholas is rehabbing his knee. So that’s their focus right now.”
Euker grateful for time with McDaniel men
The way Keith Euker saw it, as the administration at McDaniel College began to change, it was time for the head coach to do the same — namely, resigning in an announcement made May 26.
“It just kind of felt like for me, my wife and my kids that it was the right time,” he said, referring to his wife, Carrie, daughter, Sadie, and son, Bear. “They’re getting a whole new administration from the president down to the athletic director. So it just felt like it was the right time to start looking to take another step and turn the page and start a new chapter. My wife was on board and agreed with it.”
Under Euker, a graduate of Loyola Blakefield and Loyola Maryland where he played attack, the Green Terror compiled a 20-55 overall record and a 3-35 mark in the Centennial Conference. Euker, who said he intends to remain in coaching either as a coordinator or head coach, said he left not feeling totally fulfilled.
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“I’m not sure if you’re ever really satisfied,” he said of his tenure. “I think you can talk to some of the greatest coaches in the world, and they will tell you the same thing. But from a personal standpoint, it was some of the best times of my life. Both of my children were born, and we made some really good friends here and had some really good relationships with the school. From a professional standpoint, it was some of the most valuable time that I think I’ve had as a coach because there was so much learning involved and so much maneuvering that we had to do on the fly at times, which is not something you can really train for. We have absolutely fond memories of our time here.”