Head coach John Tillman joined me on “The Reality Check” on WNST.net last week ahead of the Cornell loss and said the team wasn’t obsessing over the drought. “To put the pressure of the fact that it’s been such a long time (since Marylandreally isn’t fair to our guys and our players” Tillman told me. “Having that hang over their head, I don’t think that puts them in any better position to get the things that they want or anybody around here would want.”
Tillman did go on to say he recognized the fact that the drought really matters to fans in the area.
“We realize how important lacrosse is to the state of Maryland and what it means to our school.”
(In fairness to Tillman, his own drought at Maryland is only three seasons, and he’s done a great deal for the program in that span. Unfortunately for him, he inherited the albatross when he decided to take the job. He’ll bring in another top-ranked recruiting class next season, but no Inside Lacrosse ranking will give the Terrapins a championship trophy.)
Tillman wasn’t reflecting on the drought continuing after the Terps were spanked by potential Tewaaraton Award winner Rob Pannell and the Big Red. Instead, he was thankful to a group of seniors that stuck with him after he arrived as head coach from Harvard following the firing of Dave Cottle. He spoke of the group’s accomplishments and what they will mean in Maryland lacrosse history.
“I think for this senior class especially, just knowing how hard that last 30 minutes was for us, but also just appreciating what this group of young men has done for our program in terms of getting us back to championship weekend and winning an ACC Championship” Tillman said following the defeat. “As I told them walking off the field and seeing all these young guys with Maryland lacrosse stuff on and realizing what they’ve done. The way people look at this program now. I don’t think they can truly understand what they’ve done for our program and what they’ve meant to our school and, again, selfishly I’m just so proud of the type of people they are and how they’ve done their business. It’s going to be tough saying goodbye and not being around them anymore, but like I told them in the locker room, `Once a Terp, always a Terp.'”
He’s right to point these things out, but he’s not exactly accurate about how the group will be viewed. The problem is, we’ve seen this group before. We’ve seen the ACC regular season titles, the ACC Tournament titles, the trips to the Final Four, the appearances in the national title game. We’ve seen outstanding goal scorers, incredible defensive efforts and stalwart goalkeepers. We’ve seen teams that had minimal expectations and far surpassed them and teams (like this year’s) that had incredible expectations and stumbled to the finish line. We’ve seen Tournament games where the Terps fell in heartbreaking fourth quarter fashion and games (like this year) where they were absolutely overwhelmed.
We’ve seen it all-except for one thing. We haven’t seen a championship.
It doesn’t mean this group won’t be remembered. I enjoyed and remember fondly players like Jeremy Walters and Harry Alford that couldn’t snap the drought either.
But I’ll remember much more the ones who finally do.
Until then-just more disappointment, even for those who accomplish a great deal.