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Maryland women's lacrosse - Five Terps named IWLCA All-Americans

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The Maryland women's lacrosse team placed three players on the IWLCA first team All-America squad and one each on the second and third teams.

Coourtesy Alexander Jonesi / The Diamondback

The Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Association (IWLCA) named its 2015 All-America Teams Monday and, not surprisingly, the Maryland Terrapins were well represented. Of the 48 players named to the first, second or third teams five (about 10.5%) are Terps. Three Terps made the first team with one each on the second and third teams. On the first team, only Shannon Gilroy of Florida and Meg Markham of Penn and the three Terrapins are from non-ACC schools. Maryland has the most players of any school on the list.

First Team - Keyser Soze is in the house

It probably only requires a passing familiarity with Maryland women's lacrosse to identify the three Terrapins who earned first team honors. For those without that passing familiarity, the three are Taylor Cummings, Megan Douty and Brooke Griffin.

Taylor Cummings

A lot of pixels and a lot of ink have been spent on Taylor Cummings the only sophomore player to win the Tewaaraton Award as the nation's best lacrosse player and I'm about to generate considerably more. The junior from Ellicott City earned a spot on the first team for the third consecutive year. The table below provides a statistical comparison between Cummings' sophomore season and the current season:

Season

Games

Goals

Assists

Points

Ground Balls

Draw Controls

Caused Turnovers

2014

24

63

24

87

37

128

30

2015

20

58

31

89

40

131

34

In four fewer games than she played as a sophomore, Cummings has already registered career highs in each statistical measure other than goals. Cummings leads the top ranked team in the nation in every category except goals and is in the top 30 nationally in every stat but ground balls.

Asked about the difference between Taylor Cummings in 2015 and 2014, Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said, "She's an outstanding player who just gets it done on both ends of the field. I think this year we've asked her to be more of a presence on the defensive end of the field. She makes the people around her better."

Thank goodness she plays on a great team, though. In the teleconference leading up to championship Syracuse coach Gary Gait called Cummings an incredible player who does it all but also felt it necessary to add, "It's an incredible roster from top to bottom and I think she's the jewel of that group but without that group I think it's a lot tougher for her." (Of course Cummings would probably say much the same thing.)

Megan Douty

Because she plays defense, it's a bit harder to quantify Megan Douty's contributions to Maryland's success. They are substantial and significant nonetheless. The Big Ten Defender of the Year, Douty is second on the team with 21 caused turnovers - a career high for the senior who was a first team All-American and the only defensive player among the five Tewaaraton Award finalists in 2014. She is also second in ground balls with 27.

However, these numbers barely hint at her importance to Maryland's defense. Douty is the shut down defender who regularly draws the assignment of guarding the opposing team's best scorer. Rarely beaten one on one, opposition coaches generally try to run plays to screen Douty off of that player in order to generate the opportunities that the senior rarely concedes.

Like so many players on the Terrapins' defense, Douty also possesses great speed. She regularly plays a crucial role in clearing the ball from the defensive to the offensive end of the field and in setting up Maryland's transition offense creating opportunities for Maryland to score in unsettled situations.

Brooke Griffin

Where Douty's contribution is difficult to quantify because of her position, Griffin's shouldn't be. The redshirt senior, who was recently named the Big Ten Attacker of the Year, plays a position where one can look at goals, assists and points and measure her contribution. But perhaps it isn't quite so simple. Like Douty and Cummings, she was a first team All-American in 2014 but let's make a quick comparison between Griffin's numbers as a junior and in the current season to date:

Season

Games

Goals

Assists

Points

2014

23

62

24

86

2015

20

44

19

63

Despite the diminution of her statistical production, coaches clearly recognize that Griffin provides much more to the Terrapins offense than the mere numbers project. She is nexus around which Maryland's offense flows and is frequently the player who triggers the offense from behind the goal. However, she is also exceptionally effective in making a one on one dodge to score from that position. Griffin has the ability to invert her game and allow a teammate, usually Kristen Lamon, to play behind the net while she dodges or finds space from the top of the offensive set. Her versatility creates consistent match-up issues for Maryland's foes.

The Newbies

Two Terps are  making their first appearances on the IWLCA All-American team. One is a defender and one plays attack. One is on the second team while the other is a third team honoree. One is a junior. The other is a freshman.

Alice Mercer

Alice Mercer is the defender who is making her first appearance as an All-American, was also a member of the All Big Ten team. Observers can usually spot Mercer in a one on one matchup against the opposition's tallest attacker or attacking midfielder.

Thus far this season, she has 17 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers while adding 12 draw controls. Mercer may not have the explosive quickness of Douty but, like her defensive teammate, uses her speed - eating up chunks of ground with her long stride -  to trigger the Terps' transition offense.

Megan Whittle

Ranked by many as the top freshman in the class of 2015, Megan Whittle has certainly met expectations. She needed no time at all to adjust to the college game and leads Maryland with 64 goals scored. As of this writing, her average of 3.2 goals per game is 11th best in the NCAA and second in the B1G.

While primarily a scorer, Whittle is also tenacious on the ride where her efforts contribute to Maryland's opponents achieving only a 76 percent success rate on attempted clears. Whittle was also named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week six times throughout the season.