Redshirt junior Lucas Gradinger, who was competing for a spot on Maryland’s starting midfield, will not play this spring.
Gradinger has stepped away from the program, coach John Tillman said Wednesday morning. Tillman said he is hopeful that Gradinger will return to the Terps, who are ranked No. 2 in the preseason Maverik media poll, in the fall and have two years of eligibility remaining.
“We welcome him back,” Tillman said. “We’re excited about him coming back.”
Gradinger recorded six goals and three assists as a member of the second midfield a year ago, running alongside then-redshirt sophomore Tim Rotanz and Pat Young who has since graduated.
Gradinger was competing to join junior Connor Kelly on the first line, but the field was crowded as senior Ben Chisolm (South River), junior Christian Zawadzki, and freshmen Jack Wilson and Jared Bernhardt were vying for playing time. Tillman said even attackmen like sophomores Louis Dubick and Timothy Monahan and freshman Steven Shollenberger could play in the midfield.
“Anybody else that is an offensive player is going to be an option in the midfield,” Tillman said. “Anybody else can be in play. At times last year, we ran Lou Dubick in the midfield and certainly any other attackman on our roster could be a guy who plays up there. … We’ve been shuffling guys through the midfield.”
The loss of Gradinger saps Maryland of an experienced veteran, but Tillman said his absence will not cause the team to lower its expectations of making another attempt at an NCAA Division I championship.
“Like any team in any sport, you’re going to go through some challenges and injuries and in college, you’re going to graduate players. So anytime there’s a guy not with you, other guys have to step up, and that’s the way we look at it,” he said. “There are guys competing every day that were good high school players and feel like, ‘Hey, I’m good enough to play here, and all I need is the opportunity.’
"That’s the beauty of the fall for us. All fall, we’ve had guys competing and challenging each other. For us, we’re really trying to build that. So we have a number of guys in mind and a number of guys that we’re going to try to push to get out there.”