The Maryland men’s lacrosse team hadn’t lost a season opener in 24 years, and continued that trend with a dominant 10-4 win against Navy on Saturday in College Park.
The No. 1 Maryland Terrapins defeated the Navy Midshipmen 10-4 off two impressive offensive midfield performances Bubba Fairman and Tim Rotanz, as both scored three goals each.
Maryland’s offense clicked from great ball movement and excellent shooting. Six of the 10 goals were assisted.
“I feel like all six guys we have on offense this year are all very good players,” Rotanz said. “We all can play every position, so I feel comfortable with anyone initiating, anyone finishing.”
Rotanz initiated the offense early, opened the scoring less than a minute into the game with a quick dodge to the center of the field and fired his goal offside-hip.
“If I get to the middle, I’m going to try to get a shot off,” Rotanz said.
Sophomore midfielder Ethan Mintzer scored the second for the first goal of his career, despite playing in the majority of games last season on the second-line midfield.
Rotanz’s zone-splitting pass found sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt for the third Terp goal of the game.
“I think Bubba (Fairman) was very opportunistic with his goals,” Rotanz said. “Connor (Kelly) kept his head up and Jared (Bernhardt) kept his head up. We were moving the ball well today.”
Navy cut the lead to one with goals from Ryan Wade and Casey Rees as the first quarter ended 3-2 in favor of the Terps.
Then, the Fairman show began. In his first collegiate game, Fairman scored a hat trick to show why he was known as the No. 2 recruit in his class. The freshman midfielder scored three opportunistic goals from quick ball movement. Kelly, Bernhardt and Logan Wisnauskas all assisted Fairman on catch-and-shoot goals.
“I wouldn’t say it was this week, I would say it was in August,” Rotanz said when asked if knew Fairman would have this much of an immediate impact. “Bubba is a guy that as soon as he came on campus, he was in my and Connor’s ears asking about dodging and shooting.
Yet, the Utah native showed that he wasn’t just a shooter, constantly drawing a second defender after beating his short stick defensive matchup.
Wisnauskas, a redshirt freshman who transferred from Syracuse, scored the first goal of his Maryland career off tremendous pressure from the Maryland attackers after losing the ball. Kelly also scored off of a great ride after Bernhardt dislodged the ball from Midshipmen sophomore goalie Ryan Kern’s cross.
“I’m really proud of how hard our guys rode,” Tillman said. “Those five guys back there were great off the ground. Because if you take out the faceoffs, we still out-groundballed them.”
“Their ride wasn’t all that,” Sowell said. “We just made some sloppy errors, which you can’t do against a team like Maryland who will score on you anyways.”
Maryland looked to have the advantage in the faceoffs department coming into the matchup with Navy, who went 3-22 in its season-opening loss against Jacksonville. The lifted suspension for Joe Varello changed all of that.
The senior faceoff specialist missed that first game of the season, which Navy surprisingly lost 12-7 to Jacksonville, due to violating team rules. Varello made his presence known against the Terps, winning 12 of 18 faceoffs. Junior faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen went 6-14 on faceoffs, while freshman Justin Shockey and senior Will Bonaparte went a combined 0-4 on the draw.
Maryland made up for the faceoff losses with stout defense, holding the Midshipmen scoreless for large chunks of the game. Navy head coach Rick Sowell said Maryland’s quick help defense was key for them to win the game.
“Even when a guy like Greyson (Torain) can break down the defense, they were right there,” Sowell said. “They time their slides very well and there was a very small window to find the open guy.”
Also, senior goalie Dan Morris made 11 saves on the day. The four goals that were given up are the least Morris has seen go in the back of the net in his second year as a starter.
“I thought our defense did a tremendous job,” Morris said. “Adler was the next man up, kind of late this week. Coach Bernhardt had a great gameplan and I thought we followed it really well.”
Senior close defender Michael Adler stepped in for an injured Bryce Young. Tillman noted Young would be listed as a week-to-week in terms of his ability to play. Tillman also announced sophomore attackman Steve Shoellenberger is out for the season with an undisclosed injury. Longstick midfielder Nick Brozowski also injured his knee during the dying embers of the game.
Maryland will look to get back to full health and continue its winning ways against Marist in its second contest of the year at Capital One Stadium on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
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