2022 NCAA Lacrosse Preview: No. 2 Maryland (Men)

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

With 28 assists last season, Kyle Long will be valuable in helping to set up the Maryland offense.


The 2022 college lacrosse season is nearly upon us. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

NO. 2 MARYLAND

2021 Record: 15-1 (10-0 Big Ten)
Final Ranking (2021): No. 2
Coach: John Tillman (12th year)

Maryland unleashed the cheat code named Jared Bernhardt last season when the attackman came back for a fifth season.

He rolled up 71 goals and 28 assists. He claimed the Tewaaraton Award. He and the Terrapins were only occasionally challenged prior to a 17-16 loss to Virginia in the national title game.

It is no exaggeration to describe it as the best individual season in Maryland history. The 99 points broke Ray Altman’s school record of 93 that had stood since 1961. The goal total shattered the previous mark by 19. His 4.5 goals per game bested the previous Terrapin mark of 3.73.

And now, Superman has left the building. But here’s the kicker: Nearly all of the Superfriends remain in College Park as Maryland embarks on the 2022 season.

“Now it’s got to be by committee,” coach John Tillman said. “It’s always comforting to have Jared, but in certain ways, it’s nice to say, ‘Hey, fellas, here’s your opportunity.’ We’re going to have to do it as a team.”

Helping matters immensely is the return of Maryland’s top six scorers beyond Bernhardt. All of them benefitted from his ability to win pretty much any matchup as the Terps navigated their Big Ten-only regular season schedule. With 18 goals and six assists in the NCAA tournament, no one seriously slowed him down in the postseason, either.

Yet the holdovers forced defenses to remain honest and not overly invest in attempting to stop Bernhardt. They’ll all be tasked with greater responsibility, but most are also tested options.

The most obvious is Logan Wisnauskas, the sixth-year senior whose 41-goal, 31-assist season would have drawn even more attention if he wasn’t playing with the national player of the year. The businesslike Wisnauskas is the sort of no-frills, low-maintenance player Tillman has built his program around over the last decade.

NIKE/USAL PRESEASON TOP 20
TEAM PREVIEWS

1. Virginia

2. Maryland

3. Duke

4. Georgetown

5. Notre Dame

6. North Carolina

7. Loyola

8. Yale

9. Penn

10. Rutgers

11. Lehigh

12. Denver

13. Army

14. Syracuse

15. Johns Hopkins

16. Delaware

17. Drexel

18. Cornell

19. Vermont

20. Bryant

Also back is Daniel Maltz, who scored 40 goals as the Terps’ third starter last season, and sophomore Eric Malever, who had six goals and 14 assists on the second midfield line.

Not to be overlooked is Villanova transfer Keegan Khan, who rolled up 179 points in four seasons with the Wildcats and could immediately slide into the starting lineup.

“Depending on [opponents], can we put a couple guys out there where we have three attackmen and usually you don’t have three No. 1s or three No. 2s,” Tillman said. “There might be a No. 3. Depending on matchups, game to game, it might be different.”

And then there are the more unorthodox possibilities. Veteran midfielder Anthony DeMaio has always been a possibility to offer some versatility and saw spot duty at attack last May.

Bubba Fairman and Kyle Long, both returning starters in the midfield, could also be mixed in — but at a cost to Maryland’s transition defense.

“You kind of have some options. You could play [Johns Hopkins transfer Owen] Murphy down low if you wanted to,” Tillman said. “Bubba is such a good defender and a such a good two-way guy that we always feel good about him and Long playing defense, so you hate to take away from the middle of the field.”

Chances are, it isn’t a choice Maryland will need to make. The Terps bring back eight starters, and Tillman’s use of the transfer portal has helped bolster the few vulnerabilities the program faced after last season.

At the same time, this won’t be a rerun of 2021. It’s possible no one in the sport will have a force quite like Bernhardt in the fold. The Tewaaraton winner’s old supporting cast will have more on their collective plates, and out of necessity, Maryland will need to find a new formula to return to Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re just going to be different in that regard,” Tillman said.






z

TOP RETURNERS

Kyle Long, M, Sr.

Long has the vision of an attackman but the athleticism to do plenty of damage coming out of the box while also having some value at the defensive end. With 28 assists last season, he’ll be valuable in helping to set up the Maryland offense.

Brett Makar, D, Sr.

A starter in every game since he arrived on campus, Makar is the Terps’ clear-cut top option on close defense after Nick Grill’s graduation and is likely to draw plenty of tough assignments during a rigorous regular season schedule.

Logan Wisnauskas, A, Sr.

The full list of players in Maryland lacrosse history with more points than Wisnauskas’ 237: Jared Bernhardt (290) and Matt Rambo (257). Already pivotal, he’ll have more attention on him than ever in his fifth season.

KEY ADDITION

Jonathan Donville, M, Gr.

This might be a first: A coach unquestionably grateful for journalism. In this case, it’s because Donville wanted to pursue a master’s degree in the field after his time at Cornell, and he quickly settled on Maryland. “Super-excited about that,” Tillman said. “He’s been a great leader for us. He’s one of the better leaders I’ve been around. He does everything the right way. He’s been a blessing.” It doesn’t hurt that Donville is talented enough to be the top pick in last year’s NLL’s draft.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATES

Gavin Tygh, FO, Jr. and Luke Wierman, FO, Jr.

It’s Maryland, so there’s a pretty good chance there will be a tandem of some sort at the X. Tygh won 47.2 percent of his draws at Virginia as Petey LaSalla’s backup before transferring. Maryland recruited him the first time around, so there will be some familiarity. Wierman won 45.3 percent of his attempts last season and handled the bulk of the work in the national title game against LaSalla. Together, they should have plenty of opportunities this spring.

ENEMY LINES

What rival coaches say about the Terrapins:

“We all know about Wisnauskas, Bubba Fairman and those guys. Without Bernhardt, who is that guy who steps up and handles the ball? I think that’s going to be fun.”

“I think they’re the top of the Big Ten until someone knocks them off. They do lose a talented, dynamic player in Bernhardt, but they do have everyone else coming back. They have a couple additions in the transfer portal as well, as they always will, and they always have some guys who were behind key guys that are stepping into bigger roles as their career goes on. They’re right now at the top of the Big Ten.”

BEYOND THE BASICS
POWERED BY LACROSSE REFERENCE

74th

Losing Jared Bernhardt is going to, by definition, give the Maryland offense a different feel. No offense to the other guys, but I doubt Maryland has another athlete available who could drop his stick and go win a football national title. The question is, who generates the offense for the Terps this year? Having Logan Wisnauskas on hand is a good fallback option. His individual assist rate (assists divided by play share) puts him in the 74th percentile nationally in terms of assists-per-touch. If Wisnauskas can avoid letting turnovers creep up with the increased role, Maryland will likely be just fine. — Zack Capozzi

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