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No. 1 Terps seeking 3rd-straight Championship

Taylor Cummings is without a doubt the best player in the country and she alone gives the Terps a great chance to win, but she is far from the only one around to help Maryland attempt to win their third-straight National Championship.

Taylor Cummings is without a doubt the best player in the country and she alone gives the Terps a great chance to win, but she is far from the only one around to help Maryland attempt to win their third-straight National Championship.

Maryland’s women’s lacrosse team went to their third-straight National Championship game last season and won their the title for a second-straight season. You can’t do much better than that, but that that group the core group that has all of that success graduated. Last year the team returned 11 of 12 starters from their 2014 National Championship. This year they return only five starters, but one of those starters is the reigning two-time Tewaarton Award winner Taylor Cummings.

She scored 63 goals each of the past two seasons and totaled 61 assists in that span. What else is there to say other than she is simply the best college lacrosse player in the country. Having her alone is enough for Maryland to have championship aspirations, but she won’t be alone leading the team. Fellow senior Alice Mercer, as 2015 All-America and member of the US National Team with Cummings, will be anchoring the defense with junior Nadine Hadnagy, who started 45 games over her first two seasons.

Sophomore Megan Whittle returns at attack after starting 21 games and leading the Terps with 67 goals as a freshman. Junor midfielder Zoe Stukenberg started 44 games over her first two seasons and was named to the 2015 All-Big Ten team. With the incoming of a tremendous freshman class, Maryland has a nice mix of youth and experience coming into the 2016 season, where they will start as the No. 1 team in the country.

Head Coach Cathy Reese on…

The upcoming season:

“It’s always challenger at the end of January and early February to be a spring sport. We’re still bundled up and it’s not too warm out there yet, but we’re excited about 2016. We have a different look coming into this year. We return five starters. Last year we had returned all but two starters, so we were in a different spot. This year has been a lot of fun as a coach. We have great energy and a lot of players really putting it out there to contribute to who we are going to be this year.

“If you look at our roster and who we are returning, Taylor Cummings is leading the way. Alice Mercer is another returner, All-American defender, who also plays on the US team with Taylor. Nadine (Hadnagy), a returning player on the defensive end, Zoe Stukenburg in the midfield and Megan Whittle on the attack. I’m really excited about the leadership we have at each of these positions and we’re really filling these other pieces and getting ready to open our season.”

Expectations with so many new starters:

“We have a lot of work to do. We had a good fall but this might have been out first week of practice with the snow storm. We have a lot of potential but room to grow. If you look at last year’s team on defense we had some that played three years together and four years even. To really be rebuilding in that area we’re filling in a lot of spots. We’re trying to get people used to our system. We have a really strong freshman class; a lot of them are going to make an immediate impact for us. But we’ve got a lot of room to grow and that is what I’m excited for right now, is not thinking about anybody else’s team but our own and trying to prepare to open and look to attack each day and each game and try to get a little bit better.”

The position battle for a new starting goalie:

“Our goalie play has been outstanding. Sometimes after practice I’m like ‘we either need to work on our shooting or we need to give our goalies a lot of credit. They’ve really stepped it up and I think all three of them bring something different. Emily Kif is a Jr who is very confident and that was lacking the past couple of years. She’s worked her way to having a stronger mentality on the field. Megan Taylor is a freshman. She steps on the field and runs the show. They will battle it out. We’re going to split them and give them opportunities to lead our defense.”

Two-time Tewaaraton award winning attack Taylor Cummings on…

Being a senior on a team with so much change:

“I think as a player it’s been really fun to have a new look. The past two years we have 11 of our 12 starters and had a pretty big core group of people but this year there are a lot of new faces and a lot of new freshman who have come out and really just gone hard. They almost set the standard for what the next four years will be because they play so hard and just have so much fun with it. As a player it’s definitely new and there have definitely been times I think some of the returners are like ‘oh my gosh there are a lot of new faces out here’ but I think we’re done a really good job of coming together as a team, coming together as a group and making this season special before it’s even begun.”

Her motivation as a senior after already having won National Championships and Tewaarton Awards:

“The people I’m around, we have such a culture at Maryland that we want to be the best and love each other. When you step onto the field it’s not about the awards, it’s about playing for the people next to you and doing your best for them. I think we’ve seen the past couple years how if we have that mindset and have that attitude good things come about both for the team and for the individual. It’s really just all about the team and the coaching staff.”

On being nominated for an ESPY:

“Being nominated for an ESPY was really fun. Me and Cathy we out to California with her husband and a couple of my friends, my sister and my dad; that’s just the most humbling thing I’ve ever experienced, being surrounded by the most amazing athletes and being considered near them was mind-blowing and extremely humbling, but it was super fun.”

Having her sister, Kelsey Cummings, join the Terps:

“Kelsey being here is awesome. She’s someone I’ve obviously grown up with, we’re super close. I already felt Maryland was like my family, but having an actual family member here has been a really fun experience and I’m really glad I get to share my last season with her.”

The importance of leadership with such a new-look team:

“When you don’t return as many starters as we have in the past our leadership is definitely an area that we need. The five of use really come back with experience and we all excel in different areas and that helps the team.”

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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