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Archive for July 5, 2019

July 5, 2019 — The State of Lacrosse, 2019

Even before the start of the 2019 domestic lacrosse season, it was understood that there were going to be an awful lot of changes in the coaching boxes of some of the best girls’ lacrosse teams in the United States.

It had been just days after Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) lost the 2018 IAAM Class A final, snapping its 198-game win streak, when it was made known that Taylor Cummings, the three-time Tewaaraton Trophy winner from the University of Maryland, would be coaching the program in 2019.

Another national power, Moorestown (N.J.), was also on the search for a new coach when head coach Deanna Knobloch and her husband K.C. left once their daughter matriculated to NCAA champion James Madison. And in September 2018, Karla Mixon, the head coach of a Ridgewood (N.J.) team that won the state’s Tournament of Champions, resigned.

Heading into the start of the domestic season in February, Boston College did little to dispel the notion that it was the team to beat in NCAA Division I. The teams that the Eagles didn’t blow out, they would simply outscore. Six times during the 2019 regular season, Boston College recorded 20 goals in a game.

Much of the first two months of the season was dedicated to the search for a possible contender for B.C., since it seemed as though many of the rest of the national Top 10 were capable of beating each other on any particular day.

But by the end of April, that contender showed up: the University of Maryland. The Terps came through with overtime wins over North Carolina and Syracuse early on, then came back from deficits in consecutive games against Georgetown and Northwestern.

A funny thing happened, however, during conference tournament season: Boston College (on April 30 against UNC) and Maryland (May 5 against Northwestern) both lost their conference tournament finals.

The two teams, however, did enough for the NCAA Tournament Committee to seed them 1-2, and the teams did win their way through to the national finals at Homewood Field. During the final, the Boston College offense found itself constrained not only by the Maryland defense, but goalie Megan Taylor in a 12-10 loss. The game was Taylor’s Tewaaraton moment; she received the award the following week.

Elsewhere in the colleges, Adelphi won the NCAA Division II title, and Middlebury won Division III. In the clubs, it was Pittsburgh winning the WCAL Division I championship, and Loyola (Md.) winning Division II.

In the schools, there was a laser focus on Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.), as to whether the dominant girls’ lacrosse program of the 2010s could recover from its first defeat in 198 games.

It was apparent from the opening road trip to Florida that the answer was an unerring “yes.” McDonogh beat superprep team Bradenton IMG Academy (Fla.) 17-5, then beat Delray American Heritage (Fla.) 18-9.

The reason the win over American Heritage was of such import was the fact that the nation’s all-time leading assister, junior attack Caitlyn Wurzburger. For the fourth season in a row, she reached double-digits in both goals and assists, and, barring injury or illness, is likely to reach 1,000 career combined goals and assists, albeit in a six-year varsity career.

But you can’t blame her for the state of Florida allowing middle-schoolers to play varsity, especially with a player of Wurzburger’s exceptional ability and physical maturity. She’s parlayed all those traits into a verbal commitment to the University of North Carolina as well as a spot on the U-19 national team, where she has been playing a key role.

American Heritage, however, fell a game short of defending its FHSAA state title, losing to Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), a team coached by former McDonogh head coach Chris Robinson.

And speaking of McDonogh, the Eagles were good enough to run the table in the IAAM Class A regular season, and eventually beat a very game Brooklandville St. Paul’s (Md.) 5-4 in the final.

Now, the score of that game points up an issue which has been bubbling under the surface for years: should U.S. Lacrosse and/or the National Federation institute a possession clock?

There were a number of prominent games with very low scoring throughout the 50 minutes of play. There was an April 17 game which saw Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) shut out an excellent Mount Sinai (N.Y.) team 8-0.

A number of losing coaches called for a possession clock after opposing teams took the air out of the ball in the latter 20 minutes of games. That is an issue which will have its  conclusion in due time.