COLLEGE PARK – Before the season started, Maryland senior lacrosse captain Joe Cummings heard talk that his team wasn’t deep.
“People thought that we weren’t going to have any depth at all this year, [but] you see guys coming along and stepping up and raising their level of play, even freshman,” he said.
Playing with the third midfield unit, Carlson’s had plenty of highlight-worthy goals this season, including an over the shoulder flip against Marist last week.
“I don’t work on it at practice…I saw the goalie next to me, I kind of just luckily threw it in there. I think it was all luck, I’ll take it,” said Carlson, reflecting on his blind effort.
But it’s not all luck. Five games into his Terrapin career, Carlson has had three multi-goal games and scored a total of nine goals, second-best on the team behind Cummings.
“He scores some pretty crazy goals. I don’t know how he does it,” Cummings said.
Head coach John Tillman said Carlson is addressing the weaker parts of his game by learning from upperclassmen in an effort to become a more complete player.
“He’s not just allowing himself to be pigeonholed as just a guy that can put the ball in the back of the net,” Tillman said. “When you bring a lot of skill sets to the table, people have a tough time keying in on one part of your play.”
Cummings said he hasn’t seen anyone quite like Carlson before, who has scored his nine goals on just 12 shots.
Jake Hayes of Robert Morris, with a 67 percent shooting percentage, leads the nation amongst players who average at least three shots per game.
Another freshman making a huge impact on the offensive end is midfielder Kevin Forster, Carlson’s roommate.
Forster has also played in every game this season. He credits his teammates for making the transition from high school lacrosse to Division I lacrosse look easy.
“Playing with all these top guys…It’s more of a team game in college. All six people are sharing the ball. It’s not as much one on one,” he said.
The young guns have been able to rely on one another as they work hard to get comfortable playing on the big stage.
“A lot of times we’re the ones out after practice just trying to get better,” Carlson said.
Coach Tillman still sees a ton of room for improvement for the team, specifically on the defensive end.
“Niko really bailed us out on Saturday,” said Tillman, adding that Maryland’s defense made mistakes that could have translated into goals for Marist.
A team like 10th-ranked Villanova, who Maryland faces Saturday, could pounce on similar mistakes, Tillman said.
The Wildcats (4-2) are averaging just under 12 goals a game.
Junior attack Jack Rice, a Baltimore native, leads his team with 14 goals and fellow junior Will Casertano has scored eight goals and dished out 13 assists. Casertano leads his team with 21 points through just six games.
“It seems to be everybody playing a lot for them on the offense end is a senior or junior with a lot of experience…That’s their strength going against our youth,” Tillman said.
6th-year head coach Michael Corrado’s team has nine different players who have scored at least five goals. It’s a high-octane offense that Tillman says is akin to something you’d find on the hardwood.
“It’s a lot like playing basketball, where they cut, move, cut, and move. You really have to make sure you’re sharp, you see your man, see the ball,” he said.
The game against Villanova on Saturday at 1 p.m. at home starts a grueling stretch of the season for Maryland.
As always, tune in to WMUC Sports at for all the action on Saturday.