Justin Shockey stood tall at the X, sunlight ribboning across the frame of his helmet. Maryland men’s lacrosse had just knotted its matchup with Notre Dame at four midway through the second quarter, and Shockey — Maryland’s leading faceoff man through the opening four games of the season — intended on doing his part to keep the pressure up.
At the whistle’s behest, Shockey dug his knee into the ground, hoping to gain an edge on his opposite number Charles Leonard. The tactic worked — Shockey chipped the ball away from Leonard’s grasp before scooping up the ensuing ground ball.
Less than a minute later, Shockey’s efforts were rewarded. Midfielder Russell Masci whirled around a Fighting Irish defender before slotting past goalkeeper Liam Entenmann.
Shockey’s dominance in the faceoff circle sparked Maryland’s offense, flowing into attackmen and midfielders alike. And it was paramount in propelling coach John Tillman’s squad to a 14-9 home victory on Saturday.
“They just took us to school on faceoffs,” Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. “It always plays a role when there’s a disparity in faceoffs.”
After languishing in the first quarter of its previous three games, Tillman’s instructions were clear: get off to a good start.
And for much of the opening frame, the Terps looked reinvigorated, particularly attackman Jared Bernhardt.
“We’ve been in holes early in games, especially the past two games,” defender Nick Grill said. “So really just getting out, being excited out there to start the game hot and just understanding that we don’t want to play in holes anymore.”
Bernhardt’s first goal came from a piece of individual skill — the Tewaaraton Award hopeful wrapped around the crease and drove a shot into the bottom-left corner.
His second, in contrast, resulted from a mistake. Bernhardt maneuvered past a pair of defenders and rifled a shot at Entenmann, who quickly jerked his stick up in response. The deflection looped over Entenmann’s head, though, softly nestling into the back of the net.
It would prove to be Entenmann’s only real gaffe — the freshman made 16 saves on the day. As Entenmann grew into the game, so did Notre Dame’s attacking threat, notching four goals in 12 minutes to race out in front.
“Their goalie played really well,” attackman Logan Wisnauskas said.
The Fighting Irish showed signs of cracking toward the end of the first half, though, losing possession in the midfield on several occasions. And Maryland’s midfield, a unit more than capable of racking up goals in quick bunches, capitalized.
“They just kept coming up and creating some opportunities for us,” Tillman said.
Jack Brennan’s score midway through the second frame was the spark. Soon enough, Masci would add his name to the scoresheet. And shortly after attackman Logan Wisnauskas pushed the Terps into a one-goal lead, Kyle Long made his presence felt close to goal. Long stutter-stepped behind the net, churning his way into Entenmann’s frame. By the time Entenmann flashed his stick to deny the junior, Long was celebrating, having flicked a shot into the top corner to double Maryland’s lead.
“I thought Kyle Long came in, gave us a great lift today, he’s finally getting healthy” Tillman said. “Russ Masci did a very good job… that group was huge for us, and we used that group more than we used them [before].”
Maryland’s quality continued to shine through in the second half, turning a two-goal halftime advantage into a six-goal margin of victory.
Wisnauskas added to his goal tally, netting three from short-range to push him past Bernhardt on the goal-scoring list this season.
“Coming off, I was kinda pissed off, [Entenmann] was making some good saves,” Wisnauskas said. “But, you gotta just hit the reset button — next shot’s going in, you just gotta have that mentality.”
Goalkeeper Logan McNaney made his first start in the white-and-red, making 10 saves. And the Terps’ defense, ropey at times in a loss to Villanova, was resolute, holding the Fighting Irish to nine goals — the first time Maryland has given up fewer than 12 goals this campaign.
“Logan, being a freshman coming in here, playing against a top-five team, you got to give him all the credit in the world,” Grill said. “Just making it easy for him, especially in front of him. Give him saveable shots, just give him the confidence that he’s out there for a reason.”
Tillman’s squad took the sword to Notre Dame in the second half, bolstered by an energetic midfield and a compact defensive performance.
But much of Maryland’s success was built on Shockey’s efficient display — he went 18-of-26 in faceoff duels.
And as long as Shockey keeps flicking ground balls back to his teammates, the Terps will be in a good position — especially with conference play rapidly approaching.