Leading up to the Maryland men’s lacrosse team’s matchup with Penn on Wednesday, midfielder Logan Wisnauskas asked backup goalkeeper Danny Dolan to stay after practice to help him work on his shooting stroke.
It marked one instance of coach John Tillman’s team returning to the basics after a 16-14 win against High Point, when the group allowed the second-most goals ever under his leadership. With three days to prepare for the Quakers, Tillman pushed the No. 3 Terps in practice, getting on them to field ground balls a second faster and pay careful attention to how the scout team mimicked Penn’s best threats.
Maryland responded by dominating Penn, 13-6, for Tillman’s 100th win with the Terps. He became the fastest coach in program history to accomplish that feat.
“I’m lucky to be here,” Tillman said. “Someone has to fill out the paperwork and yell at them maybe and figure out what we’re going to do at practice. Good players make you seem like a better coach.”
Tillman’s recruiting has helped fuel his success at Maryland. He convinced long-stick midfielder Nick Brozowski, who said he didn’t know much about lacrosse growing up in Boston, to leave his home state because of how personable he was on a campus visit. He landed goalkeeper Dan Morris from Dallas in part because he and Morris shared the same music taste, something the fifth-year senior hasn’t forgotten. Morris secured 13 saves against Penn.
The eighth-year coach’s ability to recruit impact transfer players like Wisnauskas has also been valuable. Wisnauskas not only appreciated Tillman’s lacrosse knowledge when he first got to know him, but he also admired the fact that he has “class checkers” to ensure his players attend their classes. He scored five times against the Quakers to pace Maryland’s offense.
Even rookies such as midfielder Bubba Fairman and goalkeeper Andrew Morris, both top-30 recruits without much first-hand experience of Tillman’s success with the Terps, have flocked to the powerhouse program.
“It’s been a hell of a ride since the beginning,” Brozowski said. “For him to accomplish this is awesome. I’m looking forward to continuing the season and getting better.”
Because of Tillman’s attention to detail, the Terps trust that as long as they put in the effort, they’ll continue to improve. With eight matchups against ranked teams ahead, development for the young team will be essential.
The team’s progress was clear from the outset Wednesday. Maryland scored the first five goals of the game and boasted a 9-2 halftime advantage. Even on short rest, the Terps appeared faster than the Quakers. With Bryce Young back in the starting lineup, the defense limited Penn’s attack. The Terps won 13 of 22 faceoffs.
“We didn’t feel like we played up to the standard of Maryland [against High Point],” Tillman said. “We challenged them, and the guys responded really well.”
While Tillman is hesitant to accept credit for his team’s success, his players admire his ability to gameplan. With his guidance, the Terps won their fourth straight contest to start 2018, pushing his record at Maryland to 100-29.
“It’s not surprising to me that he got to 100,” Morris said. “I’m sure there’s several hundred more to be had.”