Big Day for Bernhardt as U.S. Men Sweep Maryland at Fall Classic

PHOTO BY NICK IERADI

Jesse Bernhardt assisted on a goal to help the U.S. beat his Maryland team 5-4 in a defensive battle in the first game on Saturday at the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic.


Game 1 Box: USA 5, Maryland 4
Game 2 Box: USA 8, Maryland 5

SPARKS, Md. — Saturday morning’s Fall Classic couldn’t have gone much better for Jesse Bernhardt.

In his capacity as a U.S. national team defenseman, Bernhardt assisted on a first-half transition goal and was part of a unit that stymied defending NCAA Division I champion Maryland.

And while he wasn’t actively doing his full-time job — serving as the Terrapins’ defensive coordinator — until the afternoon, there was a lot for him to be pleased with in Team USA’s 5-4 victory at Tierney Field.

“I was taking a few mental notes now that I’m coaching in the second game of ‘All right, let’s make some adjustments here,’” Bernhardt said. “Not that they needed too many, and I think they actually made some, but there were a few times I’m like ‘I’m not going to say anything.’ Those guys on Maryland’s end did a great job. They were excited and had great energy.”

Logan Wisnauskas, who led Maryland to a national title while hauling in the Tewaaraton Award in the spring, scored the game-winning goal off a Brennan O’Neill feed with 3:45 remaining to help secure the victory for the national team.

Jack Kelly made five saves in the second half and Jack Concannon and Blaze Riorden both had two stops for Team USA in one of its final competition opportunities prior to next summer’s World Championship in San Diego.

“It’s always exciting to get back,” Bernhardt said. “It’s just a different environment than the PLL, trying to formulate a team with some of the best players in the world and try to do it in such a short period of time. … In the grand scheme of things, we have one more go at it, and the next time we’d be together is next summer for whatever 23 are going to represent.”

It’s also near the beginning of a journey for Maryland, which authored the first undefeated season in Division I since 2006 but graduated several key contributors. While Wisnauskas is one of several key pieces on offense who moved on, much of the defense remains intact.

That includes returning starters Brett Makar and Ajax Zappitello, as well as long pole John Geppert. The Terps never trailed by more than a goal, and limited Team USA to three goals over the first 44 minutes before Tom Schreiber scored off a Michael Sowers pass to tie it at 4-4 late in the third quarter.

“Definitely a very cool experience for us,” Makar said. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Obviously, last week was great, getting to scrimmage Cornell, but we definitely had this one circled on the calendar for a little bit.”

The Terps also showed off a positional strength that looks even more notable than last year. Goalie Logan McNaney made four saves in the first half before graduate transfer Teddy Nolan denied nine shots after the break — including six in the fourth quarter.

“We feel really good at that position,” Makar said. “Obviously, Logan has done an awesome job for a few years now, but you add a guy like Teddy Dolan, an experienced guy that is a four-year starter at Binghamton and an awesome locker room guy and provided a different aspect in terms of leadership.”

Makar joked it was weird not having Bernhardt on the sideline to yell at him when he came off, but it had to be a bit more off-putting for coach John Tillman and the Terps’ offensive players to have to deal with the longtime national team mainstay who has already appeared in a pair of world championships.

Needless to say, there was a built-in familiarity advantage for Bernhardt, even as one of the benefits for the national team from the Fall Classic is getting a look at a different opponent.

“He played darn well, too,” Tillman said. “You could hear him calling out stuff — typical him.”

Of course, that didn’t stop some of the young Terps from trying to claim some bragging rights that might have echoed throughout practice in College Park well beyond Saturday morning.

Try being the operative word on a morning Bernhardt and the Team USA defense largely impressed.

“I think guys had a little extra emphasis when they saw me in their sights,” Bernhardt said. “I know one of those guys squared me up a little bit early and tested me. I was like ‘Jeez, I have to hold my own; otherwise, I’m going to hear it for a while.’”







Defense Keys U.S. in Second Win Over Maryland

The U.S. defense remained stout as the red, white and blue completed a sweep over Maryland with an 8-5 victory in the second game on Saturday afternoon.

Maryland led 2-1 early, but Marcus Holman’s second goal of the opening quarter tied the game and ignited a five goal USA run. The Terps were held without a goal for a stretch of over 30 minutes before Marco Signorello scored with 15 seconds left in the third quarter to end the drought.

The Terps cut it to 7-5 on an extra man goal by Charlie Koras with five minutes to play, but Asher Nolting’s empty-net goal with 48 seconds remaining sealed the USA victory.

Nolting led the U.S. team with three goals while Holman added two. Jack Hannah, who had three goals in the Blue-White game on Friday night, led the U.S. offense with four assists. USA goalies Kyle Bernlohr, Tim Troutner and Blaze Riorden combined to make 12 saves with each making four.

Donal Mullane had a pair of assists to lead the Terps offense while Eric Spanos, Daniel Kelly, and Aidan Aitken joined Signorello and Koras on the scoring sheet.

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