Maryland men’s lacrosse coach John Tillman and Loyola coach Charley Toomey had similar emotions after their teams were selected to this year’s NCAA Tournament, but their teams took very different paths to get to this point.
Maryland was named the third overall seed despite an undefeated season (12-0) and a Big Ten championship. The Terrapins play Vermont in College Park, Md., on Sunday, May 16, at 2:30 p.m.
Tillman, however, is not concerned about where his team was seeded. The Terrapins, loaded with talent, were capable of making a run at a national title wherever they ended up.
North Carolina (11-2) earned the No. 1 overall seed, while ACC rival Duke (12-2) was the second seed based on their strength of schedule.
“Whether we were 1, 2, 3 or unseeded, we just got to make sure that we are appreciative of the opportunity to play,” Tillman said, “We get to play a home game. We get another week together and that’s really what I’m most thankful for.”
Toomey had a sense of relief after the Greyhounds managed to make the 16-team field despite being forced to bow out of the Patriot League tournament championship game because of a positive COVID-19 test. Loyola earned an at-large bid on the heels of late wins against Navy, Georgetown and Army and will travel to Denver for a first-round game May 16.
“For the last week, we have been talking about the fact how wonderful it is to have 72 more hours together as a team and then 48 more hours [after wins over Navy and Army West Point],” Toomey said. “That is the same feeling that we have right now. We are ecstatic about the opportunity to have at least one more week to be together as a team, and we are going to take full advantage.”
Maryland won its third Big Ten Tournament title May 9 with a hard-fought, 12-10 victory against late-charging Johns Hopkins.
The Terrapins are led by Jared Bernhardt, who set the program record for goals in a single season with two in the game, surpassing Mark Douglas’ record of 52 set in 1991. Bernhardt now has 53 and counting in 2021. Logan Wisnauskas (Boys’ Latin), has points in 54 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak in the country.
However, Big Ten teams played a conference-only schedule this year, and the Terrapins only played one team with a winning record (Rutgers twice).
“Here’s an undefeated Maryland team with one of the best players in the country, yet we’re going to say they’re No. 3,” committee chair and Towson athletic director Tim Leonard said on ESPNU’s selection show May 9. “But when you look at what North Carolina and Duke did, they really went out there and had some tests and did a tremendous job with it.
“Maryland is a great team. It’s just hard to tell how great they were based on the schedule they played.”
Tillman is 21-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. His 21 tournament victories currently rank seventh all-time among coaches. Additionally, the Terrapins’ 21 wins since Tillman took over the program in 2011 is the most in the nation, ahead of Duke (18) and Denver (14).
While the Terrapins boast a high-powered attack, the Greyhounds have been stout defensively, allowing just 9.57 goals per game, tied for eighth best in the nation. Matt Higgins is one of the top short-stick defensive midfielders in the nation with 16 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers. Junior defenseman Cam Wyers is tied for the team lead in caused turnovers with 18 and is second with 45 ground balls.
Aidan Olmstead leads Loyola with a career-best 48 points on 24 goals and 24 assists, while Kevin Lindley leads Loyola with 37 goals and is the program’s all-time leading goal scorer (154).
NCAA Men’s Division I Lacrosse Quarterfinal Bracket
Chapel Hill, N.C.
(1) North Carolina (11-2) vs. Monmouth (8-2)
Saturday 12 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(8) Lehigh (10-1) vs. Rutgers (8-3)
Saturday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
College Park, Md.
(5) Georgetown (12-2) vs. Syracuse (7-5)
Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(4) Virginia (10-4) vs. Bryant (9-3)
Sunday 12 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
College Park, Md.
(3) Maryland (12-0) vs. Vermont (9-4)
Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(6) Notre Dame (7-3) vs. Drexel (10-2)
Saturday 5 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
(7) Denver (12-4) vs. Loyola (9-5)
Sunday 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Chapel Hill, N.C.
(2) Duke (12-2) vs. High Point (8-5)
Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics and Brian McWalters