COLLEGE PARK — The Maryland men’s lacrosse team might have found a quick answer to a possible long-term problem.
Entering the 2021 season the Terps two areas of concern were in goal and finding defensemen. After two games, there are fewer conversations about the goalie. Sophomore Logan McNaney has made it official now: It’s his job to lose.
McNaney has recorded 22 saves and a .579 save percentage in No. 3 Maryland’s two victories, including a career-high 16 stops last week in a 13-7 win against Penn State.
Maryland (2-0) will host Johns Hopkins (1-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. and the Blue Jays have several outstanding offensive players in Joey Epstein, Connor DeSimone and Cole Williams. But McNaney has Hopkins coach Peter Milliman’s attention.
“He’s a savvy player,” Milliman said. “He’s able to read shooters pretty well. He anticipates locations and things like that well. I think he can have an impact on the game if you let him. We just need to be a smart and disciplined shooting team to compete with that.”
McNaney, out of Salisbury School and Corning, New York, became a focal point after the Penn State victory, even though he started the final two games of the abbreviated 2020 season, winning games against Notre Dame and Albany.
He played reasonably well against Michigan, a 20-9 win, in this season’s opener, but gave up six goals in the final period which showed a lack of concentration. But he was outstanding against the Nittany Lions.
Nine of his 16 saves were in the second half, six in the fourth period. He cleared the ball well and found his outlets immediately. He positioned himself nicely to stop shots and showed no fear of coming out of the goal.
“I was impressed with his fundamentals,” said Mark Dixon, a lacrosse analyst for the Big Ten Network and ESPN. “He is technically sound, efficient, reacts and doesn’t guess. In order to beat McNaney you have to earn good shots and truly beat him.
“He seemed to be in the right spot all night long to give himself chances to make saves,” said Dixon of McNaney’s Penn State performance. “Seemed unflappable. Hard to believe he was only making his fourth career start. He faced an early barrage of shots and didn’t flinch. Body language was the same all game long.”
The calmness is one of McNaney’s main attributes. Even when he gives up goals or teams make a scoring run, there are stories about how he will tell jokes to his teammates. Maybe it’s because he is a throwback.
He comes from a lacrosse family. His father, Mark, played defense in college and his mother, Kimberly, started the girls program at Corning East High School. Another thing McNaney learned from his father was the love of classic rock music.
Before games, he listens to AC/DC, Metallica and even Led Zeppelin. Goalies often live in strange worlds. Welcome to McNaney’s.
“My dad listened to it,” McNaney said. “I don’t like the mainstream stuff. My friends make fun of me, but I make fun of them too. But I’ve always tried to say cool, calm and not let things phase me too much. I have always tried not to get too ahead of myself, not try to get too aggressive or down on myself when I get scored on.”
McNaney was even relaxed last season when Maryland coach John Tillman decided to start him in what ended as the final two games of the season because of the coronavirus. McNaney had already started thinking about being redshirted even though only four games had been played.
And it’s not like Maryland was playing a subpar team. The Fighting Irish have long been a national power. The Terps won, 14-9, as McNaney finished with 10 saves and eventually became full time over then sophomore Chris Brandau. In those final two starts, McNaney had 21 saves and finished with a .488 save percentage.
He hasn’t looked back since, only stepped up.
“It was not the ideal situation to go home to,” McNaney said. “We were kind of on a roll. Up until I started, I was ready to redshirt, it was kind of in the back of my mind. But I think I got the best out of the situation.”
That’s because when he wasn’t starting, McNaney was playing on the scout team and facing the No. 1 offense. Back then as he does now, McNaney takes extra shots either before or after practice, most notably from attackman Jared Bernhardt and midfielder Logan Wisnauskas, two of the team’s top scorers.
McNaney has to work extra hard. He is only 5-feet-8 and 170 pounds, so he doesn’t fill the cage like big goalies. He is left-handed, which usually gives him an advantage for about a quarter because most goalies are right-handed.
McNaney also is driven by the tradition at Maryland of having All-America goalies like Niko Amato, Kyle Bernlohr and Dan Morris. The best of the bunch was Brian Dougherty, who played for the Terps in the mid- 1990s.
“It’s been a good season so far, still a lot of things to work on,” McNaney said. “There is a tradition here and those guys are always giving me some great tips. There is a legacy that has been passed down, and I’m definitely trying to add on to that. There is a little bit of pressure, but I try not to get caught up on that. I just focus on myself.”