Jared Bernhardt fell just short of a storybook ending to his Maryland lacrosse career.
The fifth-year senior had two goals and three assists in the national championship game May 31, but the Terrapins fell short against Virginia, losing 17-16.
But that setback doesn’t diminish the attackman’s legacy.
Bernhardt is the most prolific scorer in Maryland history, setting program records for career points (290) and single-season points (99). On June 4, he became the second Maryland men’s lacrosse player ever to win the Tewaaraton Award.
Bernhardt was presented the award at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., during the first weekend of Premier Lacrosse League play. He thanked a number of people after winning the Tewaaraton, including his father, Jim, who passed away in 2019 due to ALS, as well as his mother, Catherine.
“It’s awesome. It’s honestly so surreal. I just want to thank the Tewaaraton Foundation for this event this weekend. It was awesome,” Bernhardt said. “I really want to thank my teammates, my friends. I want to thank my family, my mom for coming to all of my games growing up and everything that she did, my brothers for dragging me to the field when I didn’t want to go. And I also want to thank my dad. He’s not here, but he put a stick in our hands.”
Former Terp Matt Rambo won the Tewaaraton in 2017.
“I definitely thought he could become the player that he is today,” Rambo said. “I remember when he was a freshman, we would always tell him to be more authoritative and go to the net — which he has done a lot.
“He was always so good over the last couple of years [in that] he’s grown as a player and has been unbelievable. He’s been a leader on the field. He’s been a leader off the field. Just the way he holds himself accountable.”
After scoring 71 goals in 16 games in 2021, Bernhardt holds the program record for goals per game in a season with 4.44. And his 99 points in 16 games make him second in points per game in a single season (6.19) since 1971 behind Bob Boneillo’s 6.58 points per game in 1979.
He also added to his Maryland NCAA Tournament records, posting the most goals (18) and points (24) by a Terrapin in a single tournament.
“I just credit my teammates,” Bernhardt said. “They’re all my really good friends, and we’ve been able to play with each other for a little bit now. They’re able to find me.”
Last season, Bernhardt started in all six games, finishing second on the team in goals (20) and points (29) before everything was shut down because of COVID-19. Bernhardt had initially committed to Ferris State to play college football with his final year of eligibility.
However, the Division II Bulldogs postponed their season and Bernhardt decided to return to Maryland.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to come back to Maryland and rejoin my coaches and teammates,” Bernhardt said at the time. “The uncertainty of the last nine months has definitely been a challenge, but I’m thankful to have another chance to play college lacrosse this season.”
It’s no surprise Bernhardt considered football, as he comes from a family of stellar athletes. His father Jim played football and lacrosse at Hofstra University. His brothers Jake (2009-2013) and Jesse (2010-2013) both played lacrosse at Maryland and play professionally in the Premier Lacrosse League. Jesse is an assistant coach at Maryland as well.
Jared Bernhardt was a triple-option quarterback for Lake Brantley High School in Florida and had more than 4,000 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons. But lacrosse is where he thrived.
As a junior in 2019, Bernhardt had one of the best individual offensive seasons in program history, finishing second all time at Maryland in goals (51) and sixth in points (78) in a single season at the time. He scored at least two goals in every game, ending the season on a 20-game goal-scoring streak, and had 11 hat tricks, including a streak of six straight games with three or more goals.
“I didn’t come to Maryland to break records or any of that stuff,” said Bernhardt, who started 19 games as a freshman for the Terrapins’ national championship squad in 2017. “I came to win national championships. I came for the people that were down here in College Park and really those things.”
Bernhardt received numerous postseason awards throughout his time at Maryland. He was a Tewaaraton finalist twice (2019, 2021). He earned first-team All-American honors from the USILA twice and Inside Lacrosse once. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection three times and an Academic All-Big Ten member four times.
Bernhardt may have played his best lacrosse in the NCAA Tournament.
He has the most goals in an NCAA Tournament career with 33, breaking Maryland legend Frank Urso’s record of 32 that had stood since 1976. Bernhardt is second in career NCAA Tournament points (44).
“He’s just such a special player,” Vermont coach Chris Feifs said before the Catamounts lost to the Terrapins, 17-11, in the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament. “He brings a level of skill and expertise to his position that your whole defense has to honor.”
Maryland will be hard-pressed to replace Bernhardt moving forward. His place in the program’s history books could stand for years to come, and his legacy goes beyond statistics.
“It’s that confidence, the swagger, the leadership, the mentality,” Maryland coach John Tillman said about Bernhardt. “Certain guys have that, and I think he’s really added that, and that’s something that I think Matt Rambo provided a lot of times for us on the offensive end. Just always walked on the field confidently, not arrogantly, but just had that level of confidence of, ‘Hey, guys, follow me,’ and the guys just like to follow him.
“They believe in Jared. You wish you had a lot of guys like that, but there just aren’t many guys like that in college lacrosse.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics