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Maryland midfielder Ryan Siracusa in action at Penn State earlier this season

Former Scout Team Hero Makes Major Impact on Maryland's First Midfield

May 24, 2024
Patrick Stevens
Rich Barnes

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — At this time a year ago, Ryan Siracusa thought his lacrosse career might be over.

He had just wrapped up his fourth season at Maryland. He was a scout teamer for three years, then earned a place on the Terrapins’ second midfield line in the back half of last spring. He was eligible to return for a fifth year. Whether he was in Maryland’s plans was a mystery.

“They were very grateful and they said they wanted me back and they had a spot for me,” Siracusa said. “That’s all I really wanted. I wanted to be back. I didn’t know if they wanted to have me back.”

Plenty of roster decisions made each May attract attention. The Terps’ decision to keep Siracusa in the fold didn’t make much of a ripple.

Yet it is a big part of why seventh-seeded Maryland (10-5) is facing sixth-seeded Virginia (12-5) in Saturday’s NCAA semifinals in Philadelphia. Siracusa has 19 goals and nine assists as a first-line midfielder and is coming off his first career hat trick in a 14-11 quarterfinal defeat of Duke.

He’s recorded a point in every game this season. He has at least a goal in all but one game. And after scoring eight goals in his first four seasons at Maryland, he’s more than tripled his career production while serving as a versatile threat this year.

“I don’t know where we’d be without Ryan,” coach John Tillman said. “I give him a ton of credit. He wasn’t given anything. He really worked for this opportunity. He stayed with it when a lot of kids wouldn’t do that, but he really helped our team in those years that people didn’t see him play. Everybody on our team knows he did an awesome job getting our first team defense ready.”

Maryland midfielder Ryan Siracusa (38) carries the ball against a Duke defender in the NCAA quarterfinals at Hofstra
Fifth-year midfielder Ryan Siracusa scored his first career hat trick in Maryland's NCAA quarterfinal win over Duke at Hofstra.
Alexis Friedman

BEFORE HE WAS A STARTER ON A FINAL FOUR TEAM, before he mimicked some of college lacrosse’s most skilled attackmen to help Maryland’s star defensemen prepare for games, Siracusa grew up in the rapidly developing lacrosse market around Atlanta.

The Alpharetta, Ga., native had 427 career points at Centennial High School, the sort of numbers that will generate at least some attention. Andy Pons, a local high school and club coach whose son Mac was a defenseman on Maryland’s 2017 national title team, tipped Tillman off about the slick offensive player.

It turns out it was not a difficult recruitment.

“My parents were very much, ‘If you get an offer from Maryland to play lacrosse, you’re going to go to Maryland to play lacrosse,’ because it’s such a big school with a big history,” Siracusa said.

Playing time, though, wasn’t easy to come by.

He redshirted the abbreviated 2020 season, then played in eight games in 2021 and a dozen more the following year. The stat line for those two seasons is unremarkable: one goal, one assist, 10 shots, two ground balls.

Of course, there were good reasons for the limited opportunities. Early in Siracusa’s career, Maryland’s offense featured a pair of eventual Tewaaraton winners, Jared Bernhardt and Logan Wisnauskas. Among the other notables on the roster: Anthony DeMaio, Jonathan Donville, Bubba Fairman, Keegan Khan and Kyle Long.

The Terps also went a combined 33-1 in 2021 and 2022, winning a national title in the latter year.

“It’s pretty hard not to stick with it when your team is winning and you have such great guys in front of you,” Siracusa said. “It would be a lot harder if I wasn’t on a great team to be sitting on the bench, but just winning all the time and going to those big games and looking up to guys like Jared and Logan Wisnauskas really helped.”

So too did the role Siracusa filled Monday through Friday each week. Name a star attackman Maryland has faced over the last few years, and chances are Siracusa was tasked at replicating him at some point.

Connor Shellenberger? Yup. Pat Kavanagh? Absolutely. Brennan O’Neill? He had that task going into the 2021 NCAA semifinals.

It meant studying tendencies each week, which was bound to improve his game. Defensemen like Brett Makar and Ajax Zappitello would send him clips to try to incorporate into his preparation. Then Siracusa would go to work in practice against eventual first team All-American selections.

“I felt a lot better going up against Brett and even Ajax every now and then because I felt like I had a little more of a sense of importance,” Siracusa said. “They were always coming to me to do the one-on-ones after practice. I kind of got a sense of confidence and a feeling that I’m giving them the best look.”

Everyone wants to believe they’re contributing, and Maryland’s coaches and players typically go out of their way in public settings to praise the work of teammates who toil away from the spotlight.

But as much as process is elevated in conversations about sports, results matter, too. And there’s no doubt Siracusa did his part to help Maryland get results early in his career.

“He’s one of those kids who could play the whole season and not have a single point and if we’re winning, he’s the happiest kid in the locker room, smiles all around,” said junior Eric Spanos, who played with Siracusa on the scout team in 2022, the second midfield last year and the first midfield this spring. “He’s just nothing but happiness, and he just wants to see everyone do well.”

Siracusa remembers feeling like his game was ready physically in practice in 2022, but it wasn’t translating when he got into games. With most of the stars of the Terps’ undefeated title team that year scattering after the season, there was playing time to be had.

He earned some — initially. But he had four turnovers in Maryland’s first three games, and he effectively fell out of the Terps’ midfield rotation until early April.

“I was definitely [thinking], ‘This is my final year of lacrosse, and I had a good run at it,’” Siracusa said. “A couple things worked out and I kept my head up and kept trying to play hard and really gained more confidence in myself because I went into it with, ‘I don’t care what happens anymore. I already got benched. I just want the team to do well and win.’”

He would re-emerge in Big Ten play, scoring goals at Ohio State and Rutgers. His first career multi-goal game came in a Big Ten semifinal defeat of Johns Hopkins. And he also contributed a goal in the first round of the NCAA tournament, when the Terps’ title defense was abruptly ended by Army.

From there, discussions about his future sped up. Teammates, certainly, hoped he would have the chance to build on his strong finish.

“I was always one guy that was on him,” Spanos said. “‘We’ve got unfinished business. You’ve got to come back. I know you want to. Just come back.’” 

For guys that are playing scout for us now, he’s an example. Just look at him. He was literally in your shoes.

Maryland offensive coordinator Michael Phipps

MICHAEL PHIPPS SPENT MUCH OF JANUARY simply trying to figure out his new players. He was hired as Maryland’s offensive coordinator just before Christmas, arriving after a one-year stop at Navy and a lengthy stint at Georgetown before that.

Phipps knew the Terps’ players from watching on television, but a day-in, day-out look brought a revelation during his first winter back at his alma mater.

“I just remember thinking, ‘[Siracusa] is a lot better than I thought,’” Phipps said. “‘He’s going to really help us this year. He’s a guy we’re going to rely on.’”

Phipps knows a bit about a breakout senior year. He started for the first half of his sophomore year in 2005 before an injury ended his season and was a mainstay in the lineup the following year. Both of those teams advanced to the NCAA semifinals.

He played a complementary role in those years on offenses led by Joe Walters, the program’s No. 4 all-time goal scorer, as well as 100-goal club members Bill McGlone and Xander Ritz. Phipps had 20 goals heading into his final season, then authored a 28-goal, 22-assist year while shooting 39.4 percent in 2007.

That arc happened all the time in the aughts. Maryland had 11 players between 2000 and 2008 who reached double figures in goals as a senior and doubled their previous career total.

Siracusa is only the fourth Terp to do it since then, and the first since Louis Dubick in 2019.

Phipps concluded Siracusa probably could have played the whole time and helped a lot of college teams over the last four years. His biggest problem was the PLL-level players in front of him.

Phipps told Siracusa that Maryland's coaches expected him to have a big season because they believed he could.

But there was more to it. Siracusa is multi-faceted enough to provide flexibility to an offensive coordinator. And that was especially valuable this year, as Maryland had to tinker throughout the year to find the right combinations on offense.

“He’s pretty much a jack of all trades,” Phipps said. “He can dodge a little bit. He can go both hands as you saw in the Duke game. He can catch and shoot with time and room. He’s pretty good off the ball. He brings a lot of different elements to our offense and he is pretty interchangeable in different spots on the field. He’s comfortable on the wing, up top, behind.”

It makes Siracusa something of a lacrosse chameleon. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t always stand out. But his contributions added up.

A goal here. Two goals and an assist there. But there was always something each week, and he’s scored in more games (14) than any Terp this year.

“A bunch of us were going over stuff and were like, ‘Wow, Ryan has scored in every single game this year,’” Spanos said, recalling a midseason conversation among teammates. “You don’t really realize it, but he’s just so consistent and he’s out there doing the right things. We’re just kind of like, ‘Keep shooting the ball. Shoot the ball more. No one out there can guard you. Shoot the ball.’”

Siracusa took that advice last week, scoring twice in the first half as Maryland struggled to keep pace with Duke, then tacked on an unassisted goal early in the fourth quarter as the Terps closed within 9-8. Later, he assisted on Daniel Maltz’s goal that made it 13-11 with 3:03 remaining.

Moments later, Siracusa was celebrating a trip to Memorial Day weekend with his teammates, having reached the same destination but taking a much different route to get there than earlier in his career.

“I just look at it as a tremendous experience and I truly wouldn’t want it any other way,” Siracusa said. “I don’t think I would have wanted to come in here playing all five years. I just felt like I wasn’t ready coming out of high school. I learned a ton of lessons and I got to see a lot of other people have success stories here and really just got to learn a lot.”

And now, his success is providing something for younger teammates to take note of as well.

“For guys that are playing scout for us now, he’s an example,” Phipps said. “Just look at him. He was literally in your shoes, and we have guys playing Shellenberger this week. For them it does show them there could be some light at the end of the tunnel and it could result in what you want. It’s such a great story of why you stay the course and why you work hard and why you need to try to slowly get better every single day because you can see the payoff with Ryan.”

Breaking Out of Their Shells

Maryland midfielder Ryan Siracusa is the 15th Terrapin since 1999 to reach double-figure goals as a senior and double his previous career goals total in the process.





Marcus LaChappelle20001410
Andrew Combs20015037
Nate Watkins20022413
Mike Morsell20021312
Ryan Moran20032415
J.R. Bordley2004146
Andrew Schwartzman20051510
Michael Phipps20072820
Chris Feifs2007152
Thomas Alford2007104
Will Dalton2008107
Michael Shakespeare2012187
Kevin Cooper20132017
Louis Dubick20193013
Ryan Siracusa2024198