2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 2 Maryland (Men)


Owen Murphy could be in line for a larger offensive role with graduations and injuries creating more opportunities.

The 2023 college lacrosse season is almost here. 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.


2022 Record: 18-0 (5-0 Big Ten)
Final Ranking (2022): No. 1
Coach: John Tillman


Brett Makar, D, Sr.

Few players have personified the culture Tillman set out to build at Maryland over the last dozen years than Makar, who also happens to be a first-team All-America slot on close defense. “I don’t have enough adjectives and I don’t have enough time to really say all the things I feel about Brett,” Tillman said. “I think he’s meant that much our team and our program. He’s an absolute winner in every sense of the word.”

Logan McNaney, G, Sr.

Maryland is 35-1 since McNaney took over the starting job early in the 2020 season, and he’s coming off a year in which he methodically put together a superb season, even as attention generally landed on the Terrapins’ pinball offense. McNaney finished with a .597 save percentage and an 8.44 goals-against average. “There’s a lot of other goalies out there, and for us, he’s been the perfect fit in terms of what we do and how we do it,” Tillman said. “You sleep a lot better at night knowing he’s in the goal.”

Luke Wierman, FO, Sr.

As good as the Terps were last season, Wierman’s transformation from just another guy (45.3 percent) to Division I’s No. 2 faceoff man (66.1 percent) helped Maryland become a juggernaut capable of going undefeated. Given the Terps’ graduation losses, he could prove even more valuable this season.


Donovan Lacey, M, Gr. (Sacred Heart)

After a strong career as a defensive midfielder at Sacred Heart, Lacey returns to his home state for his final year of eligibility. Lacey enjoyed a solid fall in College Park and should find himself as a key piece in a rebuilt rope unit in the spring.

Donal Mullane, A, Gr. (Bowdoin)

The graduate transfer put up silly numbers at Division III Bowdoin, collecting 59 goals and 46 assists in 16 games last season. There are a lot of holes for Maryland to fill on offense, and he could slide into the midfield as well as a spot on the attack. “What we do offensively is very different, and it’s not always easy and I think he’s handled that really well,” Tillman said.

Will Schaller, D, Fr. and AJ Larkin, LSM, Fr.

Playing time has been scarce for Maryland’s freshmen during the COVID era, and this season figures to fit into that pattern. However, both Schaller and Larkin have a chance to settle into roles in their first seasons, even with proven stars like Brett Makar and Ajax Zappitello on close defense and John Geppert at long pole still in the fold.

Dante Trader Jr., SSDM, R-Fr.

Inside Lacrosse’s No. 5 recruit in the class of 2021, Trader signed with Maryland to play football and emerged as a starting safety this fall for coach Mike Locksley’s team. The McDonogh (Md.) product now intends to resume his lacrosse career while juggling his spring football duties. “He’s articulated to me and obviously to other people that this is what he wants to do,” Tillman said. “I talked to coach Locks about it and he’s supportive of it.”


Graduations: Anthony DeMaio, M; Jonathan Donville, M; Bubba Fairman, SSDM; Jake Higgins, SSDM; Keegan Khan, A; Roman Puglise, SSDM; Matt Rahill, D; Alex Smith, SSDM; Logan Wisnauskas, A


Is it Owen Murphy’s time?

Of Maryland’s six 20-goal scorers, four graduated and a fifth (Eric Malever) will miss the 2023 season because of injury. That leaves Owen Murphy, who delivered 34 goals in a reserve role in his first year with the Terps, as a guy who will likely draw more attention.

“He walked into a really good spot where he could come in and play off those other guys where he didn’t necessarily have to carry a lot of the weight but could get his feet underneath him, adjust and transition pretty smoothly,” Tillman said. “This year, hopefully he continues to take on more responsibility and my gut is he’ll do a good job with that.”

Kyle Long (17 G, 25 A) is the lone healthy returning starter on offense, and Maryland also brings back the likes of Jack Brennan (13 G, 7 A), Jack Koras (14 G, 2 A) and Daniel Maltz (10 G, 7 A) who are capable of earning larger roles on offense this spring.

A new offensive coordinator in town.

It was little surprise that Bobby Benson was in demand as a head coach after coordinating Maryland’s offense the last two seasons. He landed at Providence in June, and Tillman opted to remain in the Terp family — and in, perhaps, the Terp family — to find his replacement.

Former Maryland midfielder Jake Bernhardt takes over for Benson, joining his brother Jesse (the Terps’ defensive coordinator) on staff. He returns to College Park two seasons after his youngest brother Jared won the Tewaaraton Award as a Terp.

Tillman doesn’t expect a dramatically different scheme considering Jake Bernhardt’s work as Vermont’s offensive coordinator.

“When we put on the film to watch Vermont last year, I joked with Jesse that it’s like watching our practice,” Tillman said. “If you watch Vermont, a lot of what they did on offense was very similar to what we were doing.”

A rebuilt corps of short stick defensive midfielders.

Maryland’s offense lost many of its key cogs, but it has some continuity returning from last year’s title run.

Things aren’t so smooth in the defensive midfield, where Maryland leaned on a bunch of fifth-year players and saw them exit at the end of the season.

“You lose four guys to the PLL, and you’re definitely going to feel the effects of that,” Tillman said.

Josh Coffman’s return from injury should help, and the addition of Sacred Heart transfer Donovan Lacey fills a need. Tillman also said sophomore Geordy Holmes, freshman Eric Kolar and junior Alex Wicks will contend for time, as will redshirt freshman Dante Trader Jr.

In any case, Maryland heads into the season with few certainties in this unit.

“We have some guys that need to prove it in our uniform that weren’t proving it a year ago,” Tillman said.


“Maryland was one of the better college lacrosse teams I’d ever seen, and playing them in person I was so impressed with their ability to attack you in every part of the game. They were buttoned up everywhere. They were buttoned up in their riding game, buttoned up in their clearing. Just a very organized, consistent program. The loss of Wisnauskas will be a huge loss. He was an incredibly talented player, but they seem to reload very well.”

“Tactically sound. The two specialty areas, almost unseen improvement. Your goalie play jumped 20 percent in terms of save percentage. And faceoff win percentage did the same. The close defensemen had the ability to shut down elite attackmen without the need to slide. They’ll be as difficult as anybody to beat, and what I’m anticipating is they’ll no longer try to beat you with 20 goals. They’ll go back to the traditional John Tillman [approach], be a little more patient and poised on offense and try to beat you with defense and play the possession game.”



My favorite new stat for the 2023 season is on-goal shooting percentage. We tend to think of shooting percentage is reflecting a goal or no goal outcome, but that’s wrong. Shots that are missed off-cage are much less damaging to an offense than shots that are saved by the goalie (and likely sent the other way in transition). A team that has more of their misses off-cage rather than saved will be a more efficient offense. So we need an on-goal shooting percentage stat to tell us how a team does on high-leverage shots, the ones that are on-cage. And last year, part of the Terps’ offensive brilliance was just that. They led the country in on-goal shooting percentage: 58.9% of their shots on-cage found the back of the net.

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