The Maryland lacrosse team suffered an extremely deflating loss at the hands of North Carolina in the National Championship game on Monday.
For the first time during the John Tillman era, this was a team that was supposed to win it all. Whether it was Colin Heacock ringing the crossbar with 1:39 left or Connor Kelly scorching shot not finding twine in overtime, there were plenty of chances for Maryland to capture glory.
However, it still can’t be overlooked that the Terrapins embarked on a record-breaking 16-game winning streak leading up to Monday’s National Championship game.
This was as deep a group as Tillman has had during his time in College Park.
Obviously, the first fact that jumps out about the 2016 group is that some of that talent will be leaving the program.
Goalie Kyle Bernlohr, defenders Greg Danseglio and Matt Dunn, and midfielders Bryan Cole, Henry West, and Pat Young are all graduating. While that’s a lot of firepower, the argument can be made that quite a bit of it is replaceable.
The Terps played suffocating defense and were one of the best in the country. Replacing Dunn won’t be easy, but Tim Muller and Mac Pons return to the starting unit.
Danseglio will also be gone, but he was only a necessary pickup on the transfer market because fellow long-stick midfielder Matt Neufeldt tore his ACL in October. By the time the 2017 season rolls around, it’ll be over 16 months since Neufeldt suffered the injury, so he should be healthy enough to play.
The first midfield unit will be gone with Cole and West departing. However, Kelly is back along with guys like Lucas Gradinger and Tim Rotanz, who are plenty capable of providing offense.
The biggest question mark will be how Maryland will replace Bernlohr in the cage.
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It could be an open competition heading into the season, but Dan Morris likely could get the nod. Morris is a former Under Armour All-American and a top 40 recruit, according to InsideLacrosse.
In relief of Bernlohr this season, Morris appeared in seven games and allowed just two goals in 29:49 of playing time. While it’s not the biggest sample size, the Dallas native has the pedigree to be a force for the Terps.
Much like Bernlohr did behind Niko Amato, Morris has sat behind Bernlohr the past two seasons.
While these losses are going to sting, Maryland isn’t being hit hard at one single position.
Maryland’s top attack unit will return with Heacock, Dylan Maltz, and Matt Rambo being back in the fold. The trio alone accounted for 43.3 percent of the team’s points during the 2016 season.
Both Heacock and Rambo topped the 40-goal plateau in 2016 and were absolute forces for the Terps. There’s no reason to believe that Maryland won’t get the same if not increased production from them next season.
While there’s a significant amount of talent leaving the program, there’s also a lot of firepower staying in the mix along with some faces that haven’t seen a ton of playing time since their arrival at Maryland.
The biggest question marks are going to be replacing Bernlohr in goal and Dunn on defense. If the Terps can do that, this is a team that could be playing on Memorial Day for the third consecutive season.