With the dust settling on Monday’s title game loss, the seniors become an interesting topic.
Maryland’s group of seniors leave a successful legacy behind.
First of all, this group of Terrapins won 50 games, which is the most ever by a Maryland class. The headliners of the class are attackman Jay Carlson, defender Casey Ikeda, midfielder Joe LoCascio, and midfielder Charlie Raffa.
All of which were some of the most talented players at their position that the Maryland men’s lacrosse program had seen in quite some time.
As a group, these seniors won the regular season conference championship on three occasions, including two in the ACC and one in the Big Ten (tied with Johns Hopkins in 2015). The group put together a 50-18 record while in College Park, which helped usher in the era of coach John Tillman.
Now let’s take a look at these players from an individual standpoint and see just how important they really were to Maryland’s success.
Face-off battles are among the most impactful individual showdowns in the sport of lacrosse. There were very few players as essential to Maryland’s success as Raffa was.
Raffa ends his Maryland career as one of the better specialists at the ‘X.’ In three of his years in College Park, the St. Anthony’s (NY) product registered in the Top 23 all-time in program history in total face-offs won in a single season. Raffa won 116 face-offs during his sophomore season (ranks 23rd all-time), 125 during his senior season (20th all-time), and 194 during his junior season (tied for 3rd all-time). During his junior season, Raffa scooped up 114 ground balls, which ranks sixth all-time in that category.
Tillman spoke at several points during the season about the importance of Raffa at the face-off circle. Winning face-offs allowed Maryland’s offense to get into a rhythm and the defense to really settle in. When you have somebody at the ‘X’ as good as Raffa, it almost becomes a sort of make-it-take-it type of game and that will usually allow a team’s offense to build a lead.
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Moving onto the two offensive stars, Carlson and LoCascio both had over 80 points during their Maryland careers and were phenomenal secondary options for the Terps, especially the past two seasons. When guys like Mike Chanenchuk and Matt Rambo were the top goal scorers, Carlson and LoCascio weren’t far behind. Carlson topped the 20-goal plateau three times and LoCascio topped the mark twice. Without even one of these pieces, Maryland doesn’t make it to Championship Weekend in 2015.
Carlson is a pure scorer that affected the offense in so many ways. He was often the player that the Terps looked to when the game was on the line. For example, in the first Ohio State game, Carlson score the game-winning goal in overtime to stun the Buckeyes.
On the other hand, LoCascio is a little more crafty. The St. Anthony’s (NY) product, especially this season, looked to dish the ball almost as much as he looked to score. LoCascio recorded 15 assists during the 2015 season, which was a career-high by a large margin. He also was Maryland’s most accurate shooter this past season as he connected on 66.2 percent of his shots on net.
Ikeda was the final major piece to the 2015 senior class.
Despite having some injury setbacks early in his career, the Conestoga (Pa.) product turned in a fantastic career while at Maryland. Ikeada was named an All-American just last week for his 2015 performance.
In 2015, the senior defender had three assists, 25 ground balls, and caused 16 turnovers (second on the team). Ikeda’s play also earned him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Ikeda really had to step up and be one of the key cogs on defense after Goran Murray was ruled ineligible for the 2015 season. Along with Matt Dunn, the two formed one of the formidble defensive duos around.
When it was all said and done after Monday’s national title game, this was one of the successful groups that Maryland has had come through College Park. This was only the second class that Tillman coached all four years and this group was key in establishing Tillman as a great Division I coach.
Since coming over from Navy, Tillman has compiled a 63-23 record with three title game appearances in just his first five seasons at Maryland. This phenomenal group has a lot to do with the success of the Maryland program and should be looked upon with great admiration after they depart.
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