After each faceoff, Maryland men’s lacrosse faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen sprints to the sideline, where assistant coach Tyler Barbarich greets him with an iPad. Henningsen examines the technique his opponent used and receives a frame-by-frame analysis of his technique.
The instant feedback has proven valuable for Henningsen, who has thrived coming off the bench for coach John Tillman’s team this season. At times, it’s difficult for Henningsen and the Terps’ other specialists to watch everything happening on the field, he said. Reviewing each faceoff on the sideline enables the unit to quickly make adjustments.
The technology has enabled Henningsen to have success whenever he’s called upon, which has been more often recently due to the struggles of freshman Justin Shockey. Barbarich provides immediate feedback to each of Maryland’s faceoff specialists, but it’s been particularly useful for Henningsen, who is challenged to remain involved in the game without knowing when he’ll be used.
Faceoff inconsistencies have plagued Maryland this year, but Henningsen has brought some stability to the position entering Sunday’s NCAA tournament quarterfinals matchup with Cornell. His production has provided a spark for the top-seeded Terps’ attack.
“The faceoffs at times have been really frustrating and confusing for the coaches,” Tillman said. “We have good players and it seems like for Austin, [he] has been better coming off the bench. I’m not sure why.”
Henningsen, who has taken faceoffs since he was in elementary school, received an increased role as Shockey struggled toward the end of March. Shockey went 3-for-12 against Michigan on March 31, while Henningsen ended the day 4-for-8. Despite Shockey still securing starting time, Henningsen has remained consistent.
In Maryland’s 14-11 first-round win against Robert Morris in College Park on Sunday, Shockey was 6-for-10, but Henningsen gave the Terps a boost in the second quarter. After failing to possess the ball for much of the first, Maryland used Henningsen’s success to score twice. He went 13-for-18 and enabled the Terps attack to gain momentum.
“The biggest difference [from last year] is being comfortable,” Henningsen said. “Being an upperclassman now, my role is even bigger. I’ve got to set an example for the younger guys and not make little mistakes.”
Henningsen, who opened the year as the starter, has seen his role change in his junior season. He made 14 starts as a freshman, setting a program record by winning 151 faceoffs in his first season. Then, he started every matchup last year, helping guide the Terps to their first championship in 42 seasons.
The Northport, New York, native’s current role is comparable to Jon Garino’s last season. Garino similarly produced off the bench and was called on when Henningsen was in a slump. He ended the year winning 84 of 136 faceoffs.
Shockey will likely be the favorite to start against the Big Red, but Henningsen will be prepared to make an appearance. And after his first, he’ll run toward the sideline and focus on an iPad with his attention already on the next faceoff.
“Roles change all the time,” Henningsen said. “You’ve got to embrace the role and be ready when called upon.”