It's another week with yet another high-profile opponent waiting Saturday for the Maryland lacrosse team. Practice is about to start, and it just so happens someone's stick has gone missing.
Soon enough, everyone is looking at Drew Snider.
"I say 'I don't know what you guys are talking about,' " Snider said. "They always know it's me. Things like that just to keep it light because it can be so serious with games on the line. People kind of have to have some stress relief, so it's still kind of fun."
Few Terrapins are enjoying themselves quite as much as Snider, a senior midfielder whose stellar play Sunday against Lehigh helped secure a 10-9 victory and send unseeded Maryland (10-5) into a quarterfinal showdown with second-seeded Johns Hopkins (12-3) on Saturday in Annapolis.
Snider had three goals but also scooped up a critical groundball late in the fourth quarter to extend a possession capped when Joe Cummings scored the game-winner with six seconds left.
"Especially with the stakes of a first-round playoff game, that was a moment I will never forget," Snider said.
No wonder. He's come a long way from when he arrived at Maryland in the fall of 2007 after a stellar high school career in Seattle. At the time, he did not remotely look like an ACC midfielder.
He weighed about 150 pounds, and even went to the lengths of slipping a pair of 2.5-pound weights in the spandex he wore when he first weighed in as a freshman.
During his first year in College Park, coaches mentioned the possibility Snider would be cut. It didn't rest solely on his size and ability, but also with how he handled himself socially and in the classroom.
"I had to find myself as a Terp, and that was a difficult process ..." Snider said. "If you're scatterbrained off the field, that relates on the field as well. You bring that baggage to the field. One you get your academics right, all that other off-the-field stuff, then you can kind of focus on lacrosse."
Snider redshirted the 2008 season and eagerly attacked weight-room work. He's now listed at 175 pounds and has produced 17 goals and seven assists while starting every game this season on the first midfield.
He's also a gregarious figure on a team filled with understated personalities, an important asset for coach John Tillman.
"Drew is kind of the people's choice," Tillman said. "He's a guy who everyone on our team can relate to. He's very popular, very easy-going, he's not the yeller and screamer. ... He's the type of guy when things are going poorly to just come and pick guys up. He's also the guy when you need a message sent to the players, he's the guy who can do it and the guys don't feel threatened."
It's a vastly different team than the one Tillman guided to the national title game last season. That outfit was littered with seniors, in starting and reserve roles.
Fran Gormley, a senior last year and now Maryland's director of lacrosse operations, believes Snider has done plenty to fill the void of the many departures.
"You spend hours and hours, so a lot of times you need guys to lighten the mood," Gormley said. "That was kind of our rallying cry last year. We have a saying 'Who's going to get the Terps going?' I think Drew is a guy you can consistently rely on. No matter what's happening off the field, he shows up every day ready to work and ready to bring that awesome Terp fun-loving mentality."
Perhaps nothing defines Maryland's program quite as much as how it values persistent, rugged play. Snider impressed with his hat trick against Lehigh, and it's the easiest part of his performance to latch onto.
In truth, the late groundball stood out even more, and it helped extend his career by at least a game — and probably meant another stick or two wound up accidentally misplaced this week.
"It really was the play of the game," Gormley said. "He'd be the last person to tell you that, but I think we all know deep down how big that groundball is. It might be the biggest play of his career."
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