At the 2013 Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic, five future Maryland men’s lacrosse players competed for the South team, including attackmen Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock.
While Rambo garnered attention with a record-setting eight-goal performance, he took notice of Heacock, the goofy Catonsville native who roomed with him at a hotel.
Right away, Rambo recognized the potential for a special friendship. They were lefty attackmen with complementary styles. Plus, Rambo valued Heacock’s sense of humor.
“I thought he was funny,” Rambo quipped. “But I didn’t think he was as smart as me.”
Four years later, the senior duo has formed one of the most illustrious tandems in program history with a combined 199 goals and 96 assists. Their friendship revolves around pranks, trash talk and laughter as they energize the Terps for another national championship pursuit.
“You know that once a guy steps on campus, every day is one day less you get with him,” coach John Tillman said before the season. “[Saying goodbye to Heacock and Rambo], because they’re so gregarious and they’re pretty engaging guys … will be pretty hard.”
It’s rare to see Rambo or Heacock without spotting one of them grinning at a joke or giving the other player hard time. This semester, they take the same classes and work out together. They’ve lived with each other since sophomore year.
After long days, they enjoy watching TV or tossing around a football. They also use an ongoing prank war to unwind from class and practice.
Often, Heacock waits for Rambo to become distracted with his phone or fall asleep. Then, as midfielder and former roommate Ben Chisolm recalled, he dumps a bottle of water on Rambo.
“That always really pisses Matt off,” Chisolm said.
Heacock is a light sleeper, so Rambo struggles to exact revenge. Though Heacock insists his counterpart is “not as smooth,” Rambo finds ways to even the battle.
Rambo’s favorite tactic is to hide Heacock’s laptop around the house and watch him panic when he realizes it’s missing. Long pole Nick Brozowski, who lived with Rambo and Heacock last year, said he’s never seen anything quite like their banter.
“You’ve got to understand that they’re literally like brothers,” Brozowski explained. “They fight like brothers. They love each other like brothers. They’re always with each other, and they’re always making jokes.”
Rambo claimed he was the responsible one around the house. Heacock, smiling while sitting in a golf cart about 15 feet away, disagreed.
“He doesn’t cook food,” Rambo said, prompting Heacock to crack up. “I’ve cooked a meal for him once or twice. I try to teach him to live the healthy lifestyle, but he’s always buying his food.”
“He’s like my little brother,” Heacock retorted. “I can cook better than he can. It just depends on the time of day and how I’m feeling, but when I cook it’s definitely much better than him.”
Midfielder Jared Bernhardt, the third-ranked freshman in the country, said he knew about Rambo and Heacock’s infamous rapport before he arrived, even though he grew up in Longwood, Florida.
Once Bernhardt reached the campus, however, he realized the seniors were more than jokesters. He said they helped smooth his transition into the starting lineup by pushing him with their constant competitiveness.
“[Rambo and Heacock] know when to have some fun … but they definitely lift practice up,” Bernhardt said. “[They’re always] making sure people are in the right spots doing the right things.”
Almost everything is a contest for the attackmen. A race for the team’s scoring lead last season provided fodder for ribbing this campaign.
Entering the 2016 national championship, both players had 40 scores. But in the 14-13 loss to North Carolina, Rambo notched three goals to Heacock’s two.
Earlier this spring, with the pain of the overtime title defeat behind them, Rambo berated Heacock about the scoring tally. While Heacock argued the achievement was “garbage” and shouldn’t count because two of Rambo’s final three strikes came from man-up opportunities, Rambo didn’t relent.
“Garbage? He had a couple of [man-up] goals himself,” Rambo said. “So I wouldn’t count that as garbage. But it’s just a friendly battle … We’re always just one-upping each other.”
On the field, Rambo and Heacock join forces to combat defenders. In practice, their antics lead to verbal blows between the Terps’ offense and defense.
When either scores during training, Chisolm said they “let the goalie know” and high-five right in front of the net. Likewise, the defense counters with excessive hollering and cheering when it manages a stop.
“It makes us play harder,” defender Tim Muller said. “We go out there, and we don’t want to hear [Rambo and Heacock] chirping at us.”
During games, Maryland rallies around Rambo and Heacock’s energy and production. Through its first five contests, the pair has notched 21 goals and 20 assists. In each contest, Rambo, donning No. 1, has linked up with Heacock, wearing No. 2, for a score.
Their contributions have placed the Terps in a position to make another deep postseason run this year, cementing their status as program greats. After they graduate, the team said it would treasure their legacy, as the senior class needs seven more victories to set the program’s all-time mark.
“I think they’ll go into the Hall of Fame here,” Chisolm said. “They’re [two of the] best attackmen I’ve ever seen. Everyone is going to be talking about them for a while.”
Rambo and Heacock, meanwhile, are focused on capturing the program’s first national championship since 1975, so they haven’t thought much about life after Maryland. But considering the relationship they’ve built over the previous four years in College Park, they expect to maintain a close bond.
After all, Heacock said, “[Rambo] is like a brother to me.”
“I don’t know my future plans, and I don’t think he does either, but … I’m sure I’m going to talk to him for the rest of my life,” Rambo added. “We’re just going to be friends forever.”