Maryland hockey continues to dominate thanks to backyard hotbeds

Just because in Maryland, the Terrapins’ hockey program is sometimes assumed to be a success.

Maryland is considered one of the top hotbeds for lacrosse recruiting, and College Park’s proximity to Howard, Montgomery, and Anne Arundel counties — among other things — puts the Turtles in a strong position to acquire central Maryland’s top talent a place.

“Kids want to go where lacrosse is important,” Maryland men’s lacrosse coach John Tillman said at the team’s media day ahead of the NCAA Final Four. “You’re going to get a huge crowd here and have a great schedule. It’s a little different than some of the other schools. Almost everyone in our state knows what lacrosse is.”

But, of course, success is far from guaranteed, especially in the competitive NCAA tournament. The Terrapin folks are well aware of the challenge, having lost five championship games between 2011 and 2021.

Still, Tillman and the Maryland men’s hockey team completed an undefeated season Monday, beating Cornell 9-7 to win its fourth NCAA title and its second in the past six years.

“All I want to do this year is not to see these kids cry,” Tillman said on ESPN, referring to the Terrapins’ loss in the championship game last season. “Last year, seeing the tears, I felt sorry for those guys…and all the seniors who didn’t get this opportunity. Our guys were focused all year and I trusted them a lot. We had a lot of selfless people.”

Seventeen of the Terrapins’ 48 players are Marylanders. Chief among them is Boys Latino graduate Logan Wisnauskas, a fifth-year senior who is one of the top players in the nation. Wisnauskas, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 Premier League Hockey League draft, ranked second in the nation with 3.44 goals per game before the Final Four and helped the Terrapins lead the championship with 2 goals and 2 assists.

But the key to the Terrapins’ national championship is more about Tillman’s out-of-state recruiting than his ability to persuade in-state players to stay home. Nearly 75 percent of Maryland’s goals and assists this season have come from out-of-state players, including a game-high five points by San Diego, Calif. native Anthony De Maio in the championship game.

“If you look at a lot of big schools, not every high school in their area has hockey,” Tillman said. “It’s a state that pretty much everyone has. It’s part of the history of this state, it’s part of the culture. What’s special is that you’re passionate about something and everyone on campus knows what it is. …’s unique, for us, we attract a lot of kids from out-of-state. It helps out-of-state kids as well as in-state kids.”

At the same time, the women’s team also has a large number of players from Maryland, as 22 of the 36 players of coach Cathy Rees are homegrown.

When Abby Bosco was growing up in New York, she saw Maryland as the pinnacle of women’s hockey. After four years at Penn, Bosco transferred to University Park for her final season.

“My middle and high school years were when Maryland was winning all these national championships,” Bosco said. “As a little girl, you wanted to go to Maryland. If you were to go to Maryland, you were one of the best players in the country.”

Unlike the men, however, the Terrapin women didn’t have the same success in the Final Four after four consecutive goals in the semifinals and a loss to Boston College in the final minutes — their 28th in their history. appearance.

Although the women’s team lost, this year’s Final Four was the ninth time in the past 12 years that the two Terrapin events have reached the semifinals together.

While the men’s team won the national championship in 2017, the ultimate crown has been elusive for Tillman’s team. In 10 full seasons in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2021, the Terrapins lost the championship game five times.

The top-seeded Terrapins struggled to win this year’s title despite falling behind Cornell. Wisnauskas, DeMaio and Kyle Long led Maryland’s first-scoring offense to give the Terrapins a 9-2 lead, while Logan McNaney and the defense stopped No. 7 Cornell, who soared late.

DeMaio led all players with four goals and added an assist, while Long added three assists on top of Wisnauskas’ four-point performance. McEnany saved 17 of his 24 field goals and held off the Big Reds’ offense in the final two quarters, preventing a Maryland offense from scoring a comeback in the final 26:55 of the game.

“(McNerney) was great,” Tillman told ESPN after the win. “We needed him today. We weren’t great offensively.”

Wisnauskas scored his 60th goal of the season, and the Terrapins’ final score brought them to 204 assists for the year, breaking Albany’s 203 NCAA record set in 2015.

With the win, Maryland (18-0) became the first Division I men’s hockey team to go undefeated and win a national championship since 2006.

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