No. 2 Maryland men’s lacrosse entered the 2023 season opener with questions surrounding its offensive firepower.
The program’s top four scorers from a season ago all graduated. The fifth, junior attacker Eric Malever, suffered a leg injury last fall and is out for the entirety of the 2023 campaign.
But if what the Terps displayed Saturday afternoon is any indication of what their attack will look like this season, those questions will be answered. Ten different players scored as Maryland was potent and efficient in a 15-4 win over No. 20 Richmond, with 24 of its 34 shots landing on goal.
Maryland’s 32.6 percent offensive efficiency rating, which measures the number of possessions that turn into goals, was the third best out of any Division 1 team in the opening weekend of men’s college lacrosse. Its 44.1 percent offensive shooting percentage led all Division 1 teams.
“We have smart players, skill players, guys that are always going to make the extra pass,” coach John Tillman said. “When you have guys like that — that work as hard as these guys do — it makes our job a whole lot easier.”
Junior attacker Owen Murphy tied a career best with four goals on a career high nine shots. His tallies came in a variety of fashions.
His first came after he battled through four Richmond defenders en route to his first score of the day. His second showcased his quick yet powerful release, as he ripped a rocket past Richmond goalkeeper Zach Vigue from about 12 yards out. His third had the right angle and bounced just in front of Vigue’s outstretched leg, and his fourth was another fiery shot.
“[Murphy] just kind of has a knack for scoring and getting to good spots,” Tillman said.
The junior was not alone in an impressive showing against the Spiders — freshman attacker Braden Erksa contributed as well.
Erksa scored two goals, both in the first half. His second came when he started out behind the net, ran around to the front and fired a low-angled shot with a stick on his body past Vigue for the goal.
“He’s a very athletic guy, a guy that we really liked in the recruiting process,” Tillman said on the freshman. “He’s very quick, he’s skilled, he’s a tough cover … It just seems like the game has slowed down a lot.”
Senior attacker Daniel Maltz scored two more in his first start since his sophomore campaign. Maltz accepted a reserve role last season after starting every game in his first two years, but returned to the starting lineup following the graduations of Logan Wisnauskas and Keegan Khan, and Malever’s injury.
Maltz registered 15 multi-goal games in his career but his work in the offseason has the Terps excited for his senior year.
“[Maltz has] played a lot for us and might’ve been our most improved guy this fall,” Tillman said.
The Terps’ new-look offense impressed alongside a defense that still boasts ace defender Brett Makar.
Maryland had the fourth best defensive efficiency — 10 percent — among all Division 1 schools in the opening weekend of games and held Richmond to a shooting percentage of just 9.5 percent, second best in the nation.
If the defense continues its strong play from last year and the Terp offense can perform like it did against Richmond, then Maryland should be on track for another successful season in College Park.