Maryland lacrosse players Danny Dolan, middle left, and Louis Dubick. (Courtesy of Maryland Athletics) ( /Maryland Athletics)

By the time Louis Dubick arrived in College Park, he already had a few game-used balls saved in plastic cases at home, each representing a career milestone. At Winston Churchill School in Potomac, Dubick broke Maryland state records, becoming the all-time leader in points, goals and assists.

But in joining the Terrapins lacrosse team, Dubick became one of many who excelled in high school. Dubick described his playing role as minimal during his first three seasons. Each year, though, he’d watch a senior or two finally earn his chance — such as Colin Giblin in 2018 and Ben Chisolm the year before.

“The cool thing about this place is somehow, some way everyone seems to get an opportunity in their four years here,” Dubick said. “It's really what you make of it.”

Dubick has emerged as another breakthrough player. After playing primarily as an extra-man specialist during his first three years, he has started at attack in every game this season, scoring 29 goals, third most on the team. Last weekend, Dubick scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Terps past Towson and into the NCAA tournament quarterfinals.

At the other end of the field, senior goalie Danny Dolan recorded 15 saves to help extend Maryland’s season. Just after the winning goal, Dubick and the others rushed toward Dolan, jumping and skipping and grabbing onto their teammates. Dubick and Dolan stayed attached, hugging each other for a few additional seconds as the still-celebrating crowd of players dispersed a bit.

“It was cool because how much time we’ve both put in together, preparing for a moment like this,” said Dolan, who will play about two miles from his Long Island home when Maryland faces Virginia in Saturday’s NCAA quarterfinal at Hofstra.

Dolan transferred to Maryland after two years at Massachusetts. He had followed the program from his home in New York and said he “100 percent” would have chosen to play at Maryland out of high school had the Terrapins recruited him.

Dolan’s childhood friend Tim Muller played for Maryland from 2014 to 2017, so that further piqued Dolan’s interest. He loved the way the Terps played and thought the team had the best uniforms. In 2014, when Muller sent Dolan a Snapchat of the team’s gray, American-flag themed jerseys to support the Wounded Warrior Project, Dolan immediately called to say, “What are those?! Those are the coolest things ever!”

After Dolan became a Terp in the winter of 2017, he knew he would stand behind Dan Morris on the depth chart. Dolan didn’t look too far ahead, even though simple math showed how his eligibility extended one year beyond Morris’s expected departure from College Park. Through his two years as a backup, Dolan tried to stay ready.

“We would talk about it, and honestly when you went into a senior year, your last year, and you’ve never started before, I’m like, ‘Danny, it’s going to be hard,’” Dolan’s father, Dan, said. “On the margin, being a senior, they may go with a younger guy just because they have more time. He’s like, ‘I know. I know.’ He just kept going, kept fighting and fighting.”

It’s natural, Dubick said, to consider transferring when playing time is scarce. But he loves the program and the people in it. Both his dad, Marc, and grandfather, Harry, played lacrosse at Maryland.

Before his junior season, Dubick thought he would slide into a key role because attackmen Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock and Dylan Maltz all graduated. The opportunity was there, he says now. He just didn’t capitalize on it.

“Next thing you know I was sitting on the bench again like I had been the last couple years,” Dubick said. “That was tough.”

Dubick continued to play as a man-up specialist his junior season, while Dolan spent just less than four minutes on the field as the goalie. Since joining the team, Dolan would stay after practice to let others shoot on him, a mutually beneficial arrangement. The offensive players who took part depended on the day, Dolan said, but it seemed as if Dubick was always among them.

All fall, Dolan said he told Dubick: “Dude, this is it. You’ve got this. Take advantage of it. It’s right here. Just take it.”

After Maryland’s final preseason scrimmage, Dubick received a text from Tillman that said the plan was for him to play more and to be ready. That week at practice, Dubick ran with returning starters. Dubick called his dad and said he might be starting in the opener. As the week progressed, it began to feel more certain.

Learning to embrace a back seat role is more than a coaching cliche. Everyone contributes to a team’s success, ranging from the goal scorers to the scout team to the locker room leaders. Dubick and Dolan, both part of Maryland’s 2017 national championship team, understood.

But there’s still that twinge of desire for something more. When Maryland played in the Final Four, Dolan thought about how incredible it was to take part. Then, he thought, “Man, I hope one day I get to be the one in the net.”

For Dubick, a game-winner in an intrasquad scrimmage would make him think about scoring one in a game. You talk about that as a kid, he said. What would you do if you scored the winning goal?

Dubick has now experienced that sensation — and relived it over and over when so many have brought it up since Sunday. In what felt like slow-motion, Dubick saw the ball hit the Towson goalie’s water bottle. He heard the whistle and then turned to find Dolan. A teammate made sure Dubick received the ball, which his family brought back to their home. It feels like the highlight of his Maryland career — “so far,” as Dubick adds.

These two seniors waited to become starters and always had what Dubick called a “light of hope” that they would follow in the path of others who earned key roles late in their careers. But after playing all season and even winning a dramatic tournament game, this doesn’t seem like the reward.

“There are steps along the way, and it’s nice,” Dolan said, “but at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to win it all.”

Read more:

Maryland women overcome slow start, roll past Stony Brook to advance to NCAA quarterfinals

Ohio State team doctor sexually abused 177 students over decades, report finds