COLLEGE PARK – From their first days in College Park, the members of the 2008 Maryland men’s lacrosse recruiting class were overshadowed by their predecessors.
The freshmen crew — now seniors for the #9 Maryland Terrapins (8-4) preparing to play their last game in Byrd Stadium on Saturday — did not feature a single top-10 recruit, a notable contrast to the highly ranked recruiting class that entered Maryland the year before.
It was a challenge for Dave Cottle, who coached Maryland from 2002-2010, to land top recruits because the large, loaded 2007 class had taken up so many scholarship spots.
Cottle called him the “perfect compliment” to the celebrated class in front of him.
For the Towson native and 19th-ranked recruit coming out of high school, coming to Maryland was an easy sell. He had admired the program since childhood.
“Running out with the flag, playing with a lot of heart, playing with a lot of passion, wearing the Maryland colors. It was a tradition I wanted to be a part of,” Cummings said.
Playing for Maryland was also an easy choice for senior captain and midfielder Drew Snider, though the Seattle, Wash., native was not promised a spot on the team.
“They said we’ll give you a try out, but you’re going to have to earn your playing time. My skills definitely weren’t good enough. I knew that I was going to have to do that anywhere I went,” said Snider, the son of a former Virginia Cavalier.
Cottle saw Snider play with a prep school team at a lacrosse tournament in Maryland. After the coach, Maryland’s former All-American goalie Brian Phipps and Maryland’s former All-American long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell pitched Snider on the idea of becoming a Terp, he knew he had found a home.
“The tradition at Maryland. I knew I wanted to be a part of that,” Snider said.
Maryland’s family atmosphere drew senior midfielder Michael Shakespeare from Walpole, Mass.
The second-ranked midfielder in the nation coming out of high school, Shakespeare said he couldn’t believe how fast four years have gone by.
“When it finally comes to fruition and you realize you only have a few days left, you kind of cherish every day of practice,” Shakespeare said.
Cummings and his fellow seniors said they will always remember last year’s ACC Championship.
“The week leading up to the ACC Tournament, Ryan’s [Young] mom had passed away. We had to play a game Friday against UNC, turn around on Sunday, beat Duke in the championship, turn around and we drove up to Long Island as a team [for the funeral]. Talk about a week where we came together as a family,” he said.
Maryland Head coach John Tillman said he was proud of how quickly this group of seniors grew up.
“A number of these guys have been waiting for their opportunity to take on more of a leadership role. You’re kind of put on the back burner and then all of a sudden as a senior it’s like, ‘OK, we need you not only be a really good player, but we need you to be a leader and we need you to look out for the guys around you,’” Tillman said.
Tillman said his players will experience conflicting emotions as they play their last game in Byrd Stadium on Saturday at noon against Bellarmine University Knights (4-7, 0-6 ECAC) of Louisville, Ky.
They will have fond memories of the past, he said, but will be nervous about the future.
“It’s a tricky thing for a young guy to manage. It’s important for us to honor those guys and all the time they’ve put in, all the sacrifices that they’ve made, and the hours they’ve put in representing Maryland,” he said.
Shakespeare said he came to Maryland to do something great.
His class has a chance to finish up the regular season strong and do something the 2007 class didn’t.
Win a national championship.