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Maryland Lacrosse: The Standard of Excellence

There is no college lacrosse program that has achieved a level of excellence like the Maryland Terrapins. The men’s team has advanced to six National Championships over the last ten Final Fours. Although the Terps have only captured one national title over this span, there is no questioning the sheer dominance and success this program has achieved over the past decade.

Maryland has qualified for every NCAA tournament since 2002, and head coach John Tillman has only missed the Final Four twice since he took over the program in 2011. Tillman has also led the program to five of the last six Big Ten Championships since the school transitioned from the ACC to the Big Ten. 

The awards don’t stop there. The men’s program has produced recent Tewaaraton winners Matt Rambo (2017) and Jared Bernhardt (2021), but the women’s program has been just as – if not more – dominant. The women’s program has produced eight of the last eleven winners. Caitlyn McFadden (2010), Katie Schwarzmann (2012 + 2013), Taylor Cummings (2014, 2015, 2016), Zoe Stukenberg (2017), and Megan Taylor (2019) have been recipients of this prestigious award. 

There are too many achievements to recognize from the women’s program to fit into this article; the lady Terps are deserving of their own feature. Cathy Reese has my utmost respect for everything she’s accomplished for both Maryland and women’s lacrosse as a whole over her 15 years as head coach.

The Terps have only dropped one game since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and their lone defeat was against Virginia in the 2021 National Championship game. Last Saturday, they had the opportunity to avenge their loss, and man did they ever. 

Look, Maryland deserves every bit of credit for that victory. But the Cavs made their fair share of errors. Virginia struggled with 17 turnovers and only 4 caused turnovers – a devastating statline. 

Maryland proved their dominance with an early goal in the first 12 seconds, and it was an onslaught from there on. Keegan Khan led the offense in scoring with 4 goals and 3 assists, and Anthony DeMaio had a career day adding 2 goals and 4 assists. Transfer Owen Murphy (3g 1a) was lightning to Logan Wisnauskis’ thunder (3 goals 2 assists). Everybody got a hand in the action including underclassmen Jack Koras and Kevin Tucker who contributed a point a piece. The depth of scoring is one of their biggest advantages.

Maryland is a team who is not going to beat themselves. It’ll take a near perfect effort to upset the Terps, and Virginia just didn’t have it. It’s an overreaction to say that Maryland is nine goals better than Virginia, but the Terps certainly looked superior in D.C. Petey Lasalla and Matthew Nunes both played poorly. As I’ve written before, it’s nearly impossible to win when your two specialists don’t show up. The Cavs will need to limit turnovers, win more faceoffs, and have better goaltending in order to beat Maryland in a potential rematch. 

The Maryland offense is a modern masterpiece. The six man unit flows like one, and the ball doesn’t stop moving until it’s in the back of the net. John Tillman may be the best college coach in the game right now. Aside from the wins, championships, and Final Four appearances, he’s done something that truly makes him stand out from the rest; player management. 

Think about Duke for a second. The Blue Devils have recruited better than any other school. The Blue Devils welcome numerous five-star recruits to Durham every August. They bring in so much fresh talent every single year. Below is the list of Duke’s Top 10 recruits since 2017 and their national ranking.

Nakeie Montgomery (#9) 2017

Wilson Stephenson (#8) 2018

Kenny Brower (#2) 2019

Dyson Williams (#3) 2019

Jake Caputo (#7) 2019

Brennan O’Neill (#1) 2020

Andrew McAdorey (#2) 2021

Jackson Gray (#6) 2021

Keith Boyer (#8) 2021

Duke has a ridiculous amount of talent, yet they’ve still underperformed. Trips to Memorial Day Weekend just aren’t good enough. With the amount of talent they have from high school recruiting to transfers like Michael Sowers, you’d think they’d have more success in May. Duke just makes Maryland look that much better. 

Like Duke, Maryland also has an overload of nationally recognized lacrosse talent on their roster, but they utilize it so much better. A perfect 7-0 record helps, but it seems like all of Maryland’s best players play and perform to the Maryland standard. Maryland brought in five transfers this year, and they’re all contributing in meaningful roles. 

Jonathan Donville, the No.1 pick in the NLL draft, is running 1st line midfield and is 2nd in points (23). Owen Murphy – who hasn’t played since 2020 – alternates between attack and second line midfield and he’s scored 14 points. Keegan Khan (9g 12a) is the X attackman who has started all seven games this year. Gavin Tygh, the No.2 fogo, is facing off at 56% while Owen Prybylski adds experience and depth to this veteran team. Prybylski has played in all seven games.

What’s next? The Terps concluded their non-conference schedule in D.C and are set to begin Big Ten play this weekend against a struggling Penn State team. Only five games remain against the five other Big Ten schools. Anything less than a perfect regular season would be a disappointment. Anything less than perfection is failure. 

Maryland has adopted the slogan ‘Be the Best,’ and they’ve lived up to that thus far. A trip to Championship Weekend isn’t enough anymore. Trips to the Final Four is the standard. The Terps are seeking their fourth NCAA National Championship, and this might just be their year. They have all the pieces to the puzzle. Maryland needs to play their best to ‘Be the Best’ in order to reach the peak of our college lacrosse, and capture their first National Championship since 2017.