In NCAA title game rematch, senior midfielder could boost slumping Terps
Maryland lacrosse midfielder Jake Bernhardt said there’s a chance he could play Saturday when the No. 9 Terps (5-2) take on No. 2 Virginia (8-1) at Byrd Stadium in a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game, won by the Cavaliers 9-7.
Maryland coach John Tillman didn’t sound quite as optimistic about the possible return of the senior, who has yet to play this season because of a shoulder injury.
“If he’s not ready, we won’t push him in there,” Tillman said. “I would say that would be hard in all honesty to kind of throw him in there. He’s out there running around on the practice field, yet we have to be confident that any type of impact or any type of hit, we would be putting him in a situation where he would be re-hurting that injury. I don’t know if I’m at a point now where I feel quite comfortable. I think we’re gonna err on caution on that. That would be tough to expect him to play this weekend.”
Tillman said that he and Bernhardt are weighing the options. If Bernhardt sits out the season as a redshirt, he could return next year and join his brother, Jesse, a long-stick midfielder, in his senior season. Tillman sounds as if that’s his preference.
“We’re at eight [games] after this weekend,” Tillman said. “You could come back for six, and whatever’s left [in the NCAA tournament]. Do you want to come back for six-plus or do you want to come back for 17, hopefully plus? That’s a lot. That’s a big gap.”
Maryland could use Bernhardt now. Second-line midfielder Kevin Cooper will sit out Saturday after an ejection for fighting Saturday in an 11-10 loss at North Carolina. The skirmish began when Cooper checked Tar Heels attackman Jack McBride high, drawing a penalty. When McBride retaliated, Cooper threw punches.
Bernhardt would add an athletic dimension to the Maryland midfield. Up-tempo Virginia has one of the most potent offensive attacks in college lacrosse led by seniors Steele Stanwick (11 goals, 28 assists), Chris Bocklet (22 goals). The Cavaliers suffered their first loss last week against visiting Johns Hopkins, 11-10, in overtime.