Maryland men’s lacrosse held a double-digit lead over Vermont in the fourth quarter of its 2022 NCAA tournament opening round matchup.

With the result all but locked up, coach John Tillman removed the starters to let his bench get action. One of those reserves was Ryan Siracusa.

The attacker got a one-on-one opportunity at the 9:30 mark and took advantage of it. Siracusa ran to his right before planting his foot and spinning away from his defender to find an opening in the Catamounts’ defense. He then fired a running shot into the top of the cage for the first goal of his college career.

Siracusa missed his first nine collegiate shots. But that 10th was different.

“That was really cool, honestly in the moment I didn’t even realize it but then after I got so many texts,” Siracusa said. “So many people were coming up to me and it was just really cool that everyone still cares and everyone reaches out to you and follows your career.”

Siracusa entered the Maryland program as a three-star recruit in the class of 2019. He was ranked outside the top 100 in the class’ rankings, behind three future Terp attackers in Dylan Pallonetti, Jack Sawyer and Jack Brennan. Fellow three-star attacker Daniel Maltz also committed to the Terps, which increased Siracusa’s difficulty finding minutes on the field.

[Maryland men’s lacrosse’s youth showcased talent and inexperience in ‘The Rivalry’ loss]

The Alpharetta, Georgia, native saw no action in his freshman campaign and made only eight appearances the next year as he struggled for playing time behind a loaded Maryland attack. He matched that number in the 2022 regular season, but did not record a goal or a point in those eight outings.

Siracusa had reasons to transfer to a new school — just like Pallonetti in 2021 and Sawyer in 2022 — as he struggled to find game action.

But instead, he stayed in College Park on Maryland’s scout team for the first three years of his collegiate career. He competed against top-end talent on Maryland’s roster every day during practice and improved his skills.

Siracusa’s determination and drive paid off against Vermont when he scored his first-career goal. And as a senior in 2023, he’s finally playing a pivotal role for the Terps.

“I’m really happy for Ryan. He’s a guy that, for three years, drove me and a bunch of the other defenders crazy on the scout end, and you always push for him to get his opportunity,” long-stick midfielder John Geppert said. “… He’s had some big time points, goals, assists that have really helped us.”

The 6-foot-1, 194-pound piece of Tillman’s second-line attack registered two goals through the first four games this season, but only played in one of Maryland’s next four contests.

[No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse falls to No. 7 Johns Hopkins in regular season finale, 12-11]

“That was kind of difficult. They really give you so much advice and help you out so I just did what they said and tried to stick with that,” Siracusa said. “Obviously, you mess up sometimes when you’re not playing as much, so that was one of the difficulties, but I just listen to the coaches and always do what they say.”

After the senior overcame weeks without playing time, he received minutes in each of the team’s final regular season outings. He shined off the bench for the Terps in those cameos.

Siracusa notched goals against Ohio State and Rutgers — starting Maryland’s scoring in one of its best offensive performances this year against the Scarlet Knights. Siracusa also registered two assists in that span after picking up just one in his first 24 career games.

“I give Ryan Siracusa a lot of credit,” Tillman said. “He kept working and when he got his opportunity he made the most of it. To me, [he’s] just another guy that we can go back to down the stretch.”

Despite Siracusa’s contributions, Maryland this year endured its worst regular season since 2009 and lost two regular season conference outings for just the second time since joining the Big Ten.

But that doesn’t change Siracusa’s expectations for the postseason. He’s got the same mindset ahead of the Big Ten tournament that he held at the beginning of the year.

“It’s my senior year, it’s my last year,” Siracusa said. “I wanna win a national championship.”