As coronavirus raged on in communities across the country, Maryland men’s lacrosse seniors had a decision to make: return to College Park for one final season or call quits on their college careers.
And while some plan on coming back, attackman Jared Bernhardt, the crown jewel of coach John Tillman’s squad, will not. Bernhardt announced his intention to pursue his football career at Ferris State on May 17.
His departure leaves a hole at the top end of the field, one that the Terps hope to fill with fresh goal-scoring talent in both the attack and midfield. And that future looks particularly bright now — four of Maryland’s incoming recruits were named 2020 Under Armour Senior All-Americans, Corrigan Sports Enterprises and Inside Lacrosse announced Tuesday afternoon.
Under normal circumstances, the quartet would have played in the annual Under Armour All-American game, originally scheduled at Homewood Field in Baltimore on July 11. However, the game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Headlining Maryland’s All-American contingent is Eric Malever, the No. 4 recruit in the nation per Inside Lacrosse. Tuesday’s announcement adds to a long list of accolades for the Atlanta native. The attackman already featured on two US Lacrosse All-American teams and four Under Armour All-American underclassmen squads, among other honors.
Joining Malever is attackman Daniel Kelly, the No. 11 prospect in the nation. Kelly starred at nearby Calvert Hall, leading the Cardinals to three consecutive MIAA titles. He adds to a long list of Calvert Hall alumni who came to College Park, including midfielders Ethan Mintzer and Jack Sawyer.
The Terps’ All-American unit fills out in the midfield with Jack Koras and Gabriel Goforth. Koras, the No. 18 prospect in the nation, established himself at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, earning 2019 US Lacrosse All-American and first-team all-state honors. Goforth, ranked No. 44 among recruits, led Bishop Shanahan to the Pennsylvania state championship, receiving All-State and All-League selections on two occasions.
While the loss of Bernhardt — and his 131 goals — looms large in the interim, the incoming class seems poised to play a role in recouping some of Bernhardt’s impact.
Tillman’s commitment to the youth was on display throughout the 2020 campaign, with rookies Jack Brennan and Logan McNaney playing pivotal roles prior to the season’s cancellation. And though the ongoing spread of COVID-19 clouds plans for the next season, one thing is clear: if the youngsters are ready to play, they will see minutes.
For a team aiming to replace an all-time prolific goalscorer, that might just be the way forward.