For Ter­rap­ins’ Shake­speare, all will be well that ends well

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY PA­TRICK STEVENS

A new coach was com­ing in af­ter the 2010 sea­son, and the in­dus­tri­ous Michael Shake­speare was go­ing to have a fresh start af­ter shut­tling be­tween Mary­land’s sec­ond and third mid­field lines as a sopho­more.

Then came a bout with Lyme dis­ease, which cost him the chance to make an early im­pres­sion on a new staff and any re­al­is­tic op­por­tu­nity to thrive on of­fense. But Shake­speare pitched in on the de­fen­sive mid­field a year ago, mak­ing enough of an im­pres­sion to earn a place on the Ter­rap­ins’ sec­ond mid­field line as long as he re­mained healthy.

“I ob­vi­ously took a lot more watch­ful eye this sum­mer,” Shake­speare said of his an­nual fam­ily va­ca­tion on Nan­tucket.

More eyes are on him as a re­sult. Shake­speare scored twice in Fri­day’s 16-11 rout of Ge­orge­town, only the sec­ond multi­goal game of his ca­reer.

The ca­reer arc prob­a­bly wasn’t what he would have pre­dicted when he was In­side Lacrosse’s No. 2-ranked mid­field re­cruit out of Walpole, Mass., in the class of 2008. But he en­coun­tered things fresh­men of­ten do, ini­tially strug­gling to ad­just to the col­lege level and earn­ing min­i­mal time as a re­sult.

“You have to get used to the pace of play,” said Shake­speare, whose No. 5 Terps (2-0) play host to No. 8 Duke (3-1) on Satur­day. “I think once I fig­ured that out sopho­more year, I started get­ting com­fort­able on the field in big-game sit­u­a­tions. Ever since then, I’ve kind

of fed off it.”

He scored five goals as a sopho­more, all but one be­fore the end of March. But then came the Lyme dis­ease di­ag­no­sis — the sec­ond time he con­tracted the tick-borne ill­ness that causes headaches, fever and fa­tigue — and the in­abil­ity to get in shape as a re­sult.

By the time he was fully healthy, new coach John Till­man had set­tled on his pri­mary of­fen­sive mid­field­ers. But de­fen­sive mid­fielder Dan Burns was in­jured, open­ing the chance for Shake­speare to earn some play­ing time.

“Like most mid­dies, they’d rather play of­fense than de­fense, but [he said] ‘What­ever you need coach’ and was happy to do it,” Till­man said. “You hope most guys say that, but peo­ple don’t al­ways say it with that much en­ergy and that much ex­cite­ment. Mike was like ‘If that’s what you need me to do, I’m happy to do it.’ I think all that ex­pe­ri­ence has helped him this year.”

It was ev­i­dent Fri­day, when he scored once from be­hind the cage (hardly an ex­pected de­vel­op­ment from some­one known for his out­side shoot­ing) and an­other time from the out­side as Mary­land han­dled its first road test of the year.

The emer­gence of mul­ti­ple threats on the sec­ond line is sig­nif­i­cant for the Terps, who paired Shake­speare with ju­nior Kevin Cooper and fresh­man Kevin Forster. Shake­speare’s place­ment there was thought out by Till­man, who ap­pre­ci­ates the veteran’s un­der­stand­ing of the game and abil­ity to help at both ends if nec­es­sary.

Yet it’s also a chance for Shake­speare to con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly in his final year. A sum­mer of con­stant work al­lowed him to earn an open spot on of­fense — or, as he jok­ingly de­scribed it, “the glory side of things.”

It didn’t hap­pen im­me­di­ately, though that might make the start of this sea­son es­pe­cially sat­is­fy­ing.

“He did come in highly touted, and he might not have got­ten off to such a hot start as he wanted to in his ca­reer, but I think he’s al­ways known that he has a very pow­er­ful shot with his right hand and he’s al­ways stuck to his guns,” fel­low mid­fielder David Miller said. “He’s bat­tled through it men­tally and phys­i­cally. I think he’s do­ing great right now.”

UNIVER­SITY OF MARY­LAND ATH­LET­ICS PHO­TO­GRAPH

Mary­land mid­fielder Michael Shake­speare is en­joy­ing a solid se­nior sea­son af­ter work­ing though a coach­ing change and bat­tling Lyme dis­ease ear­lier in his ca­reer.

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