With five minutes remaining in the third quarter of the Maryland men's lacrosse team's 10-4 win over Navy on Saturday, freshman midfielder Bubba Fairman threw both of his arms into the air and jumped toward freshman Roman Puglise to celebrate his final score of the afternoon.
Fellow rookie Logan Wisnauskas joined the fray, highlighting the crop of new faces on coach John Tillman's squad.
In the No. 2 Terps' first contest this season, Fairman tied for a game-high three scores, securing the first hat trick of his Maryland career. For an offense working without attackmen Colin Heacock and Matt Rambo, who scored a combined 70 times as seniors last season, Fairman filled the void.
"Bubba has one of the greatest attitudes and mindsets toward lacrosse," goalkeeper Dan Morris said. "He always wants to grow and develop."
Usually, Tillman is hesitant to make younger players like Fairman key components of his starting lineup. As a freshman last year, attackman Jared Bernhardt often deferred to Heacock and Rambo, picking up 28 points as a complementary piece.
But Fairman, whom Inside Lacrosse ranked the No. 2 recruit in the class of 2017, isn't a typical freshman. After all, he developed rare maturity for his age before arriving in College Park.
The Sandy, Utah, native spent his junior year of high school at The Calverton School in Huntingtown. Then, he attended Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts for a postgrad season. Tillman said the fact that Fairman has lived away from home made his transition to College Park easier.
Still, Tillman's default approach is to provide older players with the opportunity to win starting jobs in the spring. So while he knew Fairman likely possessed the attributes to earn a spot right away, he wanted the freshman to play himself into a starting role.
Rushing young players into prominent roles "is not good for your team dynamic," Tillman said.
Fairman immediately approached senior midfielders Tim Rotanz and Connor Kelly upon arriving in College Park to learn how Maryland's offense functions. Maintaining a positive and cheerful persona, he eagerly listened to the pair's perspective on dodging slides and when to take the shot or pass to a nearby teammate. Sometimes, he visited Rotanz' apartment to review plays.
On Saturday, Fairman was rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup.
"Connor and [Bernhardt] are going to draw a lot of attention," Rotanz said. "[Fairman has] spoken with us at length the last six or seven months about where to be [and] how to play with [different] people. He knew when Jared and Connor get slides, he knew where to step in."
That much was evident in the second quarter against the Midshipmen, when Fairman fielded a pass from Kelly and fired a shot to make it 4-2. He connected with Bernhardt about halfway through the third for his second score. His third pushed Maryland's lead to six and prompted the brief celebration with Puglise and Wisnauskas.
But nobody on the Terps sideline was surprised.
"He never gets too high or too low," Tillman said. "After a while, it was pretty evident he was going to play. It was just a matter of where and what line."