Five things to take away from Maryland's 23-6 victory over Mount St. Mary's on Tuesday in the season opener for both teams.
1. Kevin Cooper's versatility will serve Maryland well.
Maryland didn't exactly make it known to all that the senior would be playing attack. Indeed, Jay Carlson was listed as a starting attackman, with Cooper as a second-line midfielder coming into the game.
But considering Cooper's usage late last season, his start --- and success --- at attack against Mount St. Mary's shouldn't be considered a stunner.
Unanticipated, perhaps. But it makes a lot of sense.
Cooper ranked third on the Terps in assists a season ago as they made a run to the national title game. He had four assists in the semifinal rout of Duke.
So three goals (his second career hat trick) and three assists isn't overly crazy production against a limited opponent.
The thing is, Cooper can score and feed, but he can also toggle between the attack and midfield. Maryland took advantage of that at times Tuesday when it had Carlson on the field with the second midfield line.
"Everybody on offense is pretty versatile and it's always good to be able to play both positions," Cooper said. "It's something where I bumped down at the end of last year and it's something we've been trying out a little bit. I'm comfortable at either position."
2. Jake Bernhardt is ready to go for his second senior year.
There's always a little anxiety in a season opener, and it was especially true for Jake Bernhardt before he buried the first of his four goals early on in the opener.
"It just takes that pressure off you, that itch that you want to get a shot off," Bernhardt said.
A shoulder injury in a preseason scrimmage ultimately cost Bernhardt all of 2012, a year in which the Terrapins could have used a little more consistent scoring punch from the midfield (who couldn't?) and any additional help from short stick d-middies to complement Landon Carr.
Bernhardt drew the pole a fair bit earlier in his career, and had never scored more than two goals in a game over his first three seasons. He collected his first score since Memorial Day 2011 less than six minutes in and securing his first hat trick well before halftime.
"I think that meant a lot to him and the team," coach John Tillman said. "After the way he got hurt last year, I think a lot of air went out of the balloon that day because everybody likes him so much."
3. Maryland will have its best six defensive players on the field with Brian Cooper at short stick.
There was only so much to take from the Terps' defensive performance. Maryland scored the first seven goals and dominated possession in the first quarter. By the time Mount St. Mary's had the ball a bit in the second quarter, there was little doubt about the outcome.
But the most interesting change on defense this season is the use of Brian Cooper at short stick, with Casey Ikeda drawing the start on close defense. It's effectively Maryland's attempt to squeeze its best players into prominent roles.
Cooper was a short-stick midfielder before taking on a starting gig at close defense last season, and he's certainly capable of marking an inverting midfielder if need be. If Ikeda is both healthy and improved (he played in four games last season), this could ultimately fortify the Terps' short stick d-middie corps to a considerable degree.
Tillman said there was thought given to giving Cooper the nod in place of Ikeda against the veteran Mountaineers, but Maryland ultimately stuck with how it played throughout the preseason.
4. It's still anyone's guess who emerges as the Terps' primary faceoff man.
Charlie Raffa drew the start, went 8-for-11 on his draws and scored a goal.
Curtis Holmes played plenty in the first half as well, went 10-for-13 on faceoffs and also scored a goal.
Maryland probably isn't going to lean on one or the other unless injuries or ineffectiveness ultimately dictates it.
Raffa won 55.3 percent of his draws last year. Holmes collected 62.9 percent of his faceoffs two years ago.
For now, Maryland has multiple effective options at the X, and that's never a bad thing. This is a bit of uncertainty the Terps will gleefully accept.
5. Blowing out an overmatched team doesn't mean Maryland's consistency issues are solved.
Make no mistake: Maryland played exceptionally well in scoring its most goals since a 26-3 rout of Radford in 1995 and its most in a season opener since hammering N.C. State 25-11 in 1978.
(Worth noting is that neither Radford nor N.C. State have varsity men's lacrosse programs anymore).
But a 23-goal outburst?
"I don't see that happening very often," Tillman conceded.
For a team that's made the national title game in two consecutive years, it faced a significantly bumpy road both times. One rout doesn't change that the Terps dealt with consistency issues throughout Tillman's first two seasons, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that another wild ride could be in the offing.
But on this night, it hardly mattered. Maryland is 1-0 for the 20th straight year and probably couldn't have authored a better 15 minutes to start its season. There were not --- and should not --- be many complaints in College Park about the year's first game.
--- Patrick Stevens