By Constantine Martin
The University of Maryland men’s lacrosse team, like their female counterparts, won the 2017 NCAA national championship. The team had nine All-Americans and collected postseason accolades, with Matt Rambo winning the Tewaaraton for being the most outstanding college lacrosse player in 2017.
After ending the school’s 42-year men’s lacrosse championship drought, the team entered the 2018 season with high expectations. Maryland was ranked No.1 in the preseason coaches’ poll, but after graduating three first-team All-Americans and other contributing seniors from last year’s team, a run at a second title seems uncertain.
Coach John Tillman named fifth-year seniors Dan Morris and Tim Rotanz, seniors Adam DiMillo, Bryce Young and Connor Kelly as captains for the 2018 season. This group has pieced together an impressive collective resume entering this season, appearing in a combined 249 career games. All five players have been to the NCAA Final Four every season, with the group of three seniors appearing in the NCAA finals in each of their three seasons.
Kelly scored 46 goals as a junior in 2017, the most by a midfielder in Maryland history, and was named to the initial United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Player of the Year “Watch List” for the 2018 season.
Kelly is one of 11 players on the inaugural list, which includes six players from the Big Ten Conference. Kelly also switched his jersey number from No. 40 to No. 1 prior to his senior season as part of Maryland’s rich tradition. He became the seventh consecutive USILA All-American to wear the No. 1 jersey, dating back to Andrew Whipple from 1996-1998.
Terps lacrosse fan Leonard Williams, a sophomore philosophy major at UMD, thinks the team is capable of a repeat.
“I expect the team to do really well in conference play and improve out of conference as well,” he said. “Kelly will have a big year, and I’m confident Tillman’s team will be back in the championship.”
Maryland has won its first four games of the 2018 season, three of which were against unranked opponents. The team’s schedule gets significantly more difficult, however, as eight of the team’s next nine games are against ranked opponents.
Maryland is ranked No. 3 as of Feb. 19, according to Inside Lacrosse rankings, behind No. 2 Albany and No. 1 Duke. Maryland takes on Albany at home on March 10.
Other fans like Jake Gavilow, a sophomore letters and sciences major, think the young players have to step-up if the team has a chance at another title.
“The team still has a senior goalie who has won a national championship, and they have enough decent face-off men that they can at least neutralize most teams,” he said. “Offensively speaking, there’s going to be a lot of shuffling pieces with the loss of Rambo and Heacock. I Expect Logan Wisnauskas to help replace Heacock, and Bubba Fairman to pick up the slack when Kelly, Rotanz and (Jared) Bernhardt aren’t scoring.”
Fans will get to see what this team is made of starting March 3 when Maryland plays at home against No. 8 Notre Dame, the team’s first matchup against a ranked opponent.