This senior class has known nothing but making it all the way to the national championship.
The defending champion Maryland Terrapins are looking to play in their fourth consecutive national championship game come this Memorial Day but will have to overcome the fourth seeded Duke Blue Devils this Saturday first.
After becoming the winningest senior class in the history of college lacrosse last weekend against Cornell, a record that’s been broken each year for the last four years, head coach John Tillman can rely on his upperclassmen to lead the Terps to the title game.
Tewaaraton finalist Connor Kelly headlined an upperclassmen-heavy All-American group with his second straight year getting on the First-Team. Senior defenseman Bryce Young and sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt made the Second and Third-Team All-Americans, respectively, and junior defenseman Curtis Corley was joined by redshirt seniors Tim Rotanz and Dan Morris with Honorable Mentions.
Rotanz and Morris are the only Terps to have played against Duke lacrosse, winning 10-6 back in 2014.
Yet, in the quarterfinal triumph over the Big Red it was the underclassmen who stepped up. Freshman midfielder Bubba Fairman tallied a game-high five points (three goals, two assists), while Bernhardt and redshirt freshman attackman Logan Wisnauskas combined for eight points.
Freshman faceoff specialist Justin Shockey also dominated, going 13-of-18 from the X while sophomore defenseman Jack Welding shut sophomore standout Jeff Teat off, limiting him to just two assists. A 4-0 fourth quarter Cornell spurt made the final score seem closer than it actually was.
“I think our older guys really did a great job of preparing us for days like today,” Fairman said after the Cornell win.
Earlier in the season, Tillman noted this senior group was challenged with transitioning into leadership roles after spending most of their careers looking up to their elders. This season, however, seniors like Young and Kelly combined with veterans like Rotanz and Morris have led this team to its fifth straight championship weekend.
“A lot of people talk about the seniors from last year and all their accomplishments and everything they’ve done,” said Young, one of five senior captains. “But they keep bringing those guys up and saying we lost a lot, but I think we have all we need to make a deep run at championship weekend. That’s what I’m excited for.”
That leadership will be paramount against their former ACC rivals. Duke overcame a resurgent Johns Hopkins team, 14-9, in the quarterfinal round, where fellow Tewaaraton finalist Justin Guterding broke the all-time goalscoring record.
Guterding’s third goal of the contest was also his 104th of the season, breaking Duke’s single-season scoring record previously held by Jordan Wolf. The Garden City, New York, native is joined by two other USILA First-Team All-Americans: junior midfielder Brad Smith and junior defenseman Cade Van Raaphorst. Meanwhile, sophomore defenseman JT Giles-Harris landed on the Third-team and redshirt senior Peter Conley got an Honorable Mention.
The fourth-seeded Blue Devils (15-3) are back in championship weekend for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 2013-2014, their third title in five years. The last two times these programs met in the postseason, the Terps ousted Duke in 2012.
Duke head coach John Danowski makes his ninth championship weekend appearance in 12 seasons, while Tillman makes his sixth in eight seasons.
Maryland will look to get back to the title game and past the Blue Devils at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
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