Before practice Wednesday, Maryland men’s lacrosse attackman Dylan Maltz received a text message from his father in a family group chat that pushed him to find success against No. 19 Michigan on Saturday.
Derek Maltz Sr., a former Syracuse lacrosse player his son views as a role model, reminded Dylan Maltz that his 1983 national championship victory with the Orange remains the family’s lone first-place trophy. It was a stinging blow for Dylan Maltz considering the Terps’ 2015 and 2016 title-game defeats.
So, against the Wolverines, Maltz responded with his second consecutive hat trick to power No. 9 Maryland’s 15-8 victory. His focused play and intelligent movement without the ball contributed to all six starting attackmen and midfielders registering points in the contest.
“[My dad] always says he’s the only one in the family with a championship ring, and he’s got that gold,” Maltz said. “He motivates us.”
Since transferring to Maryland from Syracuse following his freshman campaign, Maltz has improved his scoring tally each season. He recorded 11 goals in 2015 and finished fourth on the team with 29 conversions last year.
This season, the Ashburn, Virginia, native has 17 goals in just eight games, equating to a career-best 2.13 scores per contest. In his past two appearances, he’s found the back of the net six times.
Maltz has just two assists this year, but coach John Tillman said his movement and spatial awareness open up room for teammates, meaning he’s an integral part of the attack even when he isn’t finishing.
Aside from shooting, the attackman claimed knowing how to find seams in the defense was his biggest asset. During Saturday’s win, his off-ball movement enabled the players around him to excel.
With just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Maryland maintained possession without an offensive player near the front of the net.
So Maltz, standing about 10 yards from goal as midfielder Jack Wilson held the ball behind the cage, sprinted between two Wolverines defenders and positioned himself just outside the crease. Wilson swung the ball sideways to attackman Matt Rambo, who quickly fed the cutting Maltz for a score.
Less than two minutes later, Maltz used another smart run to give the Terps a 4-2 lead.
After catching a pass with one man covering him, he rounded the left side of the net, drawing an additional defender. Then, he dished to midfielder Jared Bernhardt for an open look, which the freshman converted with little effort.
Bernhardt finished with three goals and one assist against the Wolverines. He’s now registered at least one point in all eight career games, surpassing attackman Matt Rambo’s first-year streak of seven in 2013.
Following the win, Tillman lauded the midfielder’s shooting confidence after noticing some hesitancy from him earlier in the year.
“If anything with Jared, we’re trying to … let him feel like if there’s something there, don’t be afraid to take it,” Tillman said. “He’s been great with that, and I thought this was his most aggressive game.”
Instead of taking credit for the performance, Bernhardt pointed to Maltz as an inspiration for his progression. He said the veteran’s midweek routine sets an example for how to work on his own game.
Even when other players relax, Maltz remains on the field developing his craft.
“Dylan has always been a great leader,” Bernhardt said. “I see him shooting endlessly. Before practice and after practice, he’s in his spot in the crease or in his little righty spot always shooting. … It shows on the field.”