Taylor's Takes: Early Conference Tournaments Lived Up to the Hype

PHOTO BY JEFFREY A. CAMARATI / UNC ATHLETICS


Taylor Cummings is a three-time Tewaaraton winner, a member of Team USA and the head coach at McDonogh (Md.) . "Taylor's Takes" is presented by Gait Lacrosse. Be legendary.

The first weekend of conference tournaments is behind us, and all I have to say is ... wow.

What an incredible showing of elite level and highly entertaining lacrosse across all conferences. From the superstar freshmen battle between Syracuse’s Emma Ward and North Carolina’s Caitlyn Wurzburger, to the veteran showdown of Northwestern’s Izzy Scane and Maryland’s Lizzie Colson, the women’s lacrosse world saw firsthand just how this beautiful game should be played.

These tournaments not only lived up to the hype but prepared us for an even better NCAA championship run in just a few short weeks.

North Carolina, Northwestern, UMass and High Point each earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament with their conference titles, while many others now have a nerve-wracking week ahead as they wait for the NCAA selection show this Sunday.

Bracketology has never been my specialty, but I am confident that those chosen will be deserving and will provide us with more exciting lacrosse than ever before.

Before we look too far ahead to the biggest tournament of them all, let’s look at a few players who impressed me most this week!

Taylor’s Top Five Players

Angie Benson, Virginia Tech

Although the Hokies didn’t advance into the semifinals of the ACC tournament, Benson did everything in her individual power to make that happen. She had nine saves and stopped 55 percent of shots in Virginia Tech’s quarterfinal matchup with high powered Syracuse.

She was the backbone of a defense that limited the Orange to nine goals. Her ability to remain composed under immense pressure and make save after save kept the Hokies in the game until the very end. Benson has had a great season and could potentially have more lacrosse to play if Virginia Tech makes the NCAA tournament.

Aurora Cordingley, Johns Hopkins

Cordingley might not have tallied a goal in the Blue Jays’ quarterfinal matchup against Penn State, but she certainly was the focus of every Nittany Lion defender on Thursday.

Her fast feet, quick dodges behind cage and impeccable feeding ability drew two and sometimes three defenders her way, and she was still able to earn three assists on the night.

In Friday’s semifinal against Maryland, Cordingley led Hopkins’ late second-half comeback with two goals and gritty play in transition. Cordingley is a leader both by example and through her words and is poised to help Johns Hopkins make a run in the NCAA tournament.







Meaghan Tyrrell, Syracuse

Tyrrell has been a force all season long and was at the core of Syracuse’s ACC tournament success.

In Wednesday’s matchup, Tyrrell tallied two goals, two assists, one caused turnover and one ground ball. On Friday, she had two goals and three assists in the Orange’s victory over Boston College. In short, she has been all over the field and an integral part of Syracuse’s offensive triumphs as of late.

Tyrrell’s ability to maneuver her stick to the best possible angle even if her body is moving away from cage shows how incredible her stick work is and how much work she has done over the years to get it to this point.

Grace Griffin, Maryland

Griffin is one of two Tewaaraton finalists for the Terps this year — and for good reason. She is a markup midfielder on the defensive end, as well as a leader on the offensive end both in point production and poise.

Her Big Ten conference tournament stat lines include six goals, three assists, six ground balls and two caused turnovers — many of those coming at key times in the game. Griffin appears to be the calming presence on both ends of the ball for Maryland, as she constantly relies on her big-game experience and veteran leadership.

Caroline Wakefield, North Carolina

Wakefield is one of the toughest defenders in the country and rarely gets much credit for her play.

In North Carolina’s ACC championship game victory, she was instrumental in a defensive effort that was almost perfect in every way. Wakefield had four ground balls and five turnovers in the contest, with many of those coming at pivotal moments in the game when Syracuse was trying to claw its way back.

She is a tough defender to beat thanks to her understanding of defensive schemes, gritty 1-v-1 play and ability to make the right slides at the right time.

Taylor’s Top 10 Teams

1. North Carolina (18-0)
2. Northwestern (13-0)
3. Syracuse (14-3)
4. Boston College (13-3)
5. Florida (14-2)
6. Notre Dame (9-6)
7. Stony Brook (12-2)
8. Duke (9-7)
9. Drexel (12-1)
10. Maryland (9-6)

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