A lot of things went right for No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse against No. 12 Ohio State on Sunday. The team’s goalie made 12 saves, its best player scored six goals, players assisted on 12 of the 18 goals and so on.
Those are things the Terps have done well all year. But if there’s one category where Maryland has been inconsistent this season, it’s faceoffs.
That wasn’t the case when the Buckeyes came to College Park, as sophomore Luke Wierman made his first career start at the X.
While Maryland got off to a somewhat slow start elsewhere, Wierman was locked in from the opening whistle and gave his team opportunities throughout the game.
“Luke Wierman, getting his first start, I thought was fantastic and really kind of set the tone for us after a slow start,” coach John Tillman said. “[He] really helped us get a lot of possessions in the second quarter to get things going.”
Wierman took over the starting job from veteran faceoff specialist Justin Shockey, who has struggled throughout his senior campaign.
Shockey won faceoffs at a rate of .552 over his first three years playing under Tillman, but in eight games this year, his clip sank to .482. In week nine, Tillman decided to go in a different direction.
Wierman had seen game action before he got the start on Sunday. He came in to relieve Shockey after poor starts against Ohio State on March 20, and against Penn State and Michigan in the past two weeks.
During those games, Wierman secured an even 50 percent of faceoffs, preparing him to give the Terps plenty of extra possessions when facing the Buckeyes.
“Possession, in general, is awesome,” midfielder Bubba Fairman said. “For Luke to go out there in his first career start and play as well as he did, was phenomenal.”
Wierman, a West Chester, Pennsylvania, native did most of his damage in the first half, when he won nine of 13 bouts at the X. Maryland’s first goal came just 27 seconds into the game, immediately following a Wierman faceoff win.
Early in the second quarter, Fairman gained possession after Wierman won his fifth faceoff of the matchup, and he found Daniel Maltz near the net to give the Terps a 4-2 lead.
Fairman, now in his fourth year in College Park, knows sequences like that are an extension of everything that transpires in practice.
“It speaks to Luke, but it also speaks to the kids that have been making him better all week,” Fairman said. “We call the faceoff the ‘hog pen.’ Those guys get after each other day in and day out, every single day.”
Fellow sophomore Conor Calderone has seen some time in the faceoff circle as well, going eight for 22 in three appearances. But even as Wierman’s production tapered off in the second half against the Buckeyes, Tillman left him in.
The Terps proved they can have success without winning every faceoff, but it’s always helpful to get a boost from the faceoff position, no matter who it is.
“We have so much talent at that position,” Fairman said. “If you go through our roster and you look at the faceoff guys, they’re all great. They’re great kids too … Luke had an awesome day, and it was amazing to see.”
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this photo’s caption incorrectly cited Luke Wierman’s first name as Logan. The caption has been updated.