June 14, 2014

Maryland and Syracuse Lineages Continue to Impress

by Megan Schneider | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

"There is no greater feeling of pride than wearing USA across your chest and hearing the National Anthem before the game as you get ready to compete for your country," said Caitlyn McFadden. (John Strohsacker)

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Sunday marks three weeks since the NCAA Division I women's national championship game between the top two programs in the country: Maryland and Syracuse. The Terps were crowned champions with a 15-12 victory over the Orange, but it is no question that these two squads boast the top talent in women's lacrosse.

For the first time in the history of the Tewaaraton award, four finalists squared off in the title game — Maryland's Taylor Cummings and Megan Douty and Syracuse's Alyssa Murray and Kayla Treanor — and they have all reconvened on one field yet again, but instead, to play for each other and their country.

On Sunday Team USA coach Ricky Fried and the selection committee will announce the roster for the U.S. women's national team. With eight players each hailing from Maryland and Syracuse in the tryout pool, they will be eager to hear if they will have the opportunity to represent their programs' strong lineages on an international stage.

From those two programs, 10 of the 16 players graduated this year or will in 2015 or beyond. The national team that competes for the 2017 World Cup in England will feature some new young talent, which speaks volumes to the growth of the sport and the program.

"There's a tremendous amount of talent out here, a lot of young talent, but a tremendous amount of talent," Fried said. "We're looking forward to working with a lot of new players. It's an exciting opportunity and we're three years out so we have a lot of time to work with this group and mold them into who they're going to be at the 2017 World Cup."

Representing the utmost Maryland pride, the veterans include 2010 Tewaaraton Award winner Caitlyn McFadden,2013 Tewaaraton Award winner Alex Aust and two-time Tewaaraton winner (2012 and 2013) Katie Schwarzmann. Rounding out this group are Taylor Cummings, this year's recipient of the Tewaaraton Trophy, Megan Douty, Kelly McPartland, Alice Mercer and Megan Whittle — the youngest trying out — and excited to be an incoming freshman at Maryland.

"Lacrosse is a team sport, and you will get nowhere if you don't have chemistry with your teammates," said Whittle, who embodies the Team USA mentality at such a young age. "I always make sure I personally am playing at my highest ability and performing at my best in order to set the bar for my teammates on my high school team. It would be an honor to learn from and experience lacrosse with some of the best. Lacrosse matters to me because it is my future. I can't wait for my college experience at UMD, and I'm so excited to see where lacrosse will take me."

After Cummings lifted Maryland to its 11th NCAA title, she credited her experience with the national team this fall and in January at Champion Challenge for improving her skill set and increasing her confidence on the field. Although she may still feel the nerves trying out this weekend due to a quicker pace, one level up from the collegiate game, Fried certainly recognizes her growth as a player.

"We had a year with her last year and she's a tremendous athlete, tremendous lacrosse player, super competitive," Fried saud. "We're excited to continue to work with her and see how she does this weekend and bring her into our system if you will, and continue to develop our team through the next couple years."

Trying out for the national team while wearing her bright orange cleats, Treanor still reminds herself of her Syracuse squad, which had a historic season in part thanks to her impressive dodging abilities on the crease that allow her to score effortlessly.

Because she is only a rising junior like Cummings, the women's lacrosse community will be able to enjoy two more years of their rare talents, and maybe even more if they continue to play for the national team. Both Treanor and Cummings, along with Aust and Duke's Taylor Trimble, were added to the Team USA roster for the Stars and Stripes weekend in October 2013 following the announcement of Gina Oliver, Megan Huether and Sarah Albrecht's retirement from the squad.

Joining Treanor this weekend are fellow Orange women Liz Hogan (2011), Michelle Tumolo (2013), Becca Block (2013), Alyssa Murray (2014), Kasey Mock (2014), Kathryn Webster (2014) and Taylor Poplawski (2017).

For some of them like Murray, it was their first time trying out, but as an All-American and a Tewaaraton finalist for two years in a row, Murray continually displayed how much of a great asset she can be as a feeder on offense.

"To wear the Team USA uniform would be a dream come true for me," said Murray, who declared that one of her strengths is her high lacrosse IQ. "I have imagined myself playing for this team for several years and would truly be honored to be able to play alongside the best players in lacrosse."

The young talent from these two programs, as well as other universities, could join the ranks of Team USA on Sunday and earn the honor of representing the red, white and blue. For the veterans trying out like Kelly Rabil, wife of MLL star Paul Rabil, it was a welcome sight.

"It's always cool to see young talent and fresh talent and kids who are excited about being a part of the national program," Rabil said. "There's always the best of the best on Team USA and that's what we're hoping to find. I hope I can fit in there somewhere too."

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