Under coach John Tillman, Maryland men’s lacrosse freshmen have made a habit of racking up absurd individual statistics in early-season nonconference games.
Former attackman Matt Rambo, who went on to establish program records in goals and points, began his career with a four-goal, two-assist performance against Mount Saint Mary’s in 2014. Midfielder Connor Kelly dished three assists against Villanova as a freshman in 2015. Attackman Jared Bernhardt notched his first-career hat trick last year against Saint Joseph’s, laying the foundation for his Honorable Mention All-American season.
But in Tuesday’s 13-7 win over Marist, touted rookies Bubba Fairman and Logan Wisnauskas were overshadowed by their older teammates. Kelly, now a senior, established a new career best with eight points (four goals and four assists), while Bernhardt, now a sophomore, set his own top mark with seven points (five goals and two assists).
It was the most points between two Terps since 1991 against Ohio State.
Fairman and Wisnauskas, meanwhile, combined for just two goals, a stark contrast from Maryland’s season-opening victory against Navy on Saturday, when they accounted for four of the Terps’ 10 strikes.
“Midweek games and a quick turnaround, it’s never easy,” Tillman said. “Especially after a real tough-fought and physical game on Saturday. … Our leadership [from the veterans] was great today.”
After Marist midfielder Gannon Morrison scored less than two minutes into the contest, Kelly and Bernhardt took over, peppering Red Foxes goalkeeper Brian Corrigan with 22 shots from a variety of angles.
At times, the onslaught was merciless.
With 7:38 remaining in the first quarter, Wisnauskas found Kelly for a long-range finish to give the Terps a 4-1 lead. Before the Maryland Stadium announcer finished telling the crowd who had scored, Wisnauskas assisted to Kelly again for a right-handed bullet from a similar position. The goals came 12 seconds apart.
Maryland bested that feat in the second quarter, scoring twice in eight seconds with strikes from Bernhardt and Wisnauskas to jump ahead 7-2.
Bernhardt, who served as the team’s wide-eyed freshman sparkplug during its national championship run a year ago, appeared confident in possession throughout the win. With increased familiarity of Maryland’s offensive system and experience playing two games in three days from the squad’s final four run last season, Bernhardt felt Tuesday’s contest was more straightforward than the obstacles he faced as a rookie.
“It’s a lot easier,” Bernhardt said. “I kind of know what’s going on.”
The Terps were mostly dominant, but they did appear vulnerable at times without starting defenseman Bryce Young, who remains out with an undisclosed injury. Tillman’s squad allowed Marist to find offensive openings and put 19 shots on target.
Still, Maryland remained out of reach from the Red Foxes, pulling away with fourth-quarter goals from Bernhardt and Wisnauskas to secure the win.
After the contest, Tillman said it was “unrealistic” to expect Young to return next weekend against High Point, though he added that the senior was not dealing with a season-ending injury. While that continued absence isn’t ideal for the Terps after they lost most of last year’s core to graduation, earning a positive result against Marist while figuring out the logistics of a short-handed defense could prove beneficial down the road.
“These early-season games are huge for us,” Kelly said. “Just trying to figure out the parts both offensively and defensively, but to come out with a win is huge.”