Last fall, Maryland men’s lacrosse midfielder Logan Wisnauskas stumbled into a nickname that’s followed him throughout his redshirt freshman season.
The Sykesville native, who had recently transferred from Syracuse, stood expressionless as coaches spoke to him. Wisnauskas’ straight face amused his teammates. They started calling him “Groot,” the name of the tree-like figure in Guardians of the Galaxy that rarely shows emotion.
Coach John Tillman’s staff has also used the nickname, often shouting it from the sideline during games. The practice is one of many quirks Wisnauskas has embraced on his way to 24 goals in his debut campaign.
He’s even created his own logo that reads “Groot” with his number 12 engraved in it.
“This program’s pretty unique,” defenseman Jack Welding said. “The way he adapted pretty quick and jelled with the guys, it’s pretty cool to see.”
But it wasn’t always an easy process.
As he learned Maryland’s offense before the season, Wisnauskas spent time in and out of the hospital. He suffered from a sinus infection and so many other ailments that he couldn’t recall each diagnosis. The coaches urged him to remain persistent.
“You name it, I had it,” Wisnauskas said. “It was horrible. I don’t really know what was going on.”
Still, Wisnauskas spent time with midfielder Connor Kelly and the rest of the No. 1 Terps’ attack to lessen the learning curve in the spring. He also studied where different goalies play and how opposing units defended Maryland’s attack in the past.
Wisnauskas scored a combined three goals in Maryland’s first two wins and recorded his first career hat trick against High Point on Feb. 17. He broke out in the Terps’ 13-6 win against Penn on Feb. 21, scoring a season-high five goals.
“It’s all guys getting me open, I’m playing off the defender,” Wisnauskas said. “They’re not going to slide off [Kelly], the best shooter in the country — they’re going to slide off me. I’m taking advantage of that.”
Wisnauskas made a fourth-quarter impression in Maryland’s 13-12 win over then-No. 15 Penn State on Sunday. In a span of 28 seconds, Wisnauskas found the net twice to give Maryland the lead.
It’s the type of production the Terps have come to expect from “Groot” as they pursue their second championship in as many seasons. Wisnauskas’ goals per game average is third in the nation among freshmen.
“He’s really capitalized on some of the opportunities that have come his way,” coach John Tillman said. “He comes back and gets two really good opportunities [against Penn State] and goes 2-for-2 in those shots. That was a huge lift for us.”