For the second straight year, Maryland men’s and women’s lacrosse are the top-seeded teams in their respective NCAA Tournament fields. The men’s team enters the tournament as the hottest team in the country, winning its last three to claim the Big Ten regular season and tournament title.
The women steamrolled everyone in their path, finishing 19-0 with wins over a sizeable portion of the tournament field. The Terps have had exactly one loss in each of the last four seasons, two of which coming in the final game of the season. After losing the chance at an undefeated season in last year’s national championship game, Maryland looks to stay perfect.
Here are three players on both sides that are primed to be key factors if the Terps want to lift hoist a championship trophy—or two—come Memorial Day weekend.
Names to know for men’s lacrosse
No. 40 Connor Kelly, junior, midfield: He’s coming into the postseason red hot, pouring in nine goals in the Big Ten Tournament, including a career-high five goal effort against Ohio State in the conference title game. Kelly has shown that he’s not afraid of the big moment either, dating back to last year’s NCAA Championship game in which he netted a team-high four goals and had the confidence as a sophomore to take the Terps’ final shot in overtime. With the all-senior attack graduating, this is as opportune a time as ever to take the reigns of the offense.
No. 1 Matt Rambo, senior, attack: Entering his final postseason run, this is the biggest moment of Rambo’s college career. The program’s all-time points leader is missing only a national championship to his name. He scored 13 goals along with eight assists in last year’s NCAA Tournament, but even that wasn’t enough propel the Terps over the Tar Heels. Rambo is a player who thrives in pressure situations, and he’ll be looking to cement his legacy at Maryland with an exclamation point.
No. 14 Tim Muller, senior, defense: Noticing a defender is somewhat of a challenge in lacrosse, as it’s only natural to gravitate to whoever has possession. Take notice the next time an opposing attack is stifled in isolation by a Maryland defender; more often than not, it’ll be defensive anchor Tim Muller. He’s always assigned to guard the opponent’s most lethal scorer, which is big reason why Maryland has been able to shut down some of the best attacks in the country. With 14 caused turnovers and 19 ground balls, he knows when it’s time to make a defensive stand and when it’s time to be aggressive.
Names to know for women’s lacrosse
No. 34 Megan Taylor, sophomore, goalkeeper: Fresh off a Big Ten Goalie of the Year award, Taylor is one of the best net-minders in the country. She finished the season with a .549 save percentage and a 9.18 goals-against average, respectively ranked 3rd and 16th nationally. She is coming into the NCAA Tournament off an incredible performance against Northwestern, when she stopped 16 of 22 shots in a 14-6 victory. Taylor’s success feeds into the rest of the team, who consistently play with confidence knowing Taylor can clean up any defensive mistakes. If she is on her game, Taylor is a brick wall in the cage.
No. 23 Megan Whittle, junior, attack: The fastest Terp to reach 200 goals, doing so in three seasons, Whittle is as explosive a player as they come. She totaled 60 goals this season, which leads the team and is tied for 12th in the nation. What stands out the most is her speed, which is virtually impossible to stop, and her toughness, as she constantly gets fouled in the offensive zone without flinching. Whether or not she is scoring, Whittle demands most of the defense’s attention, opening the field up to the rest of the team.
No. 15 Zoe Stukenberg, senior, midfield. Whittle may be this team’s primary scorer, but Stukenberg’s versatility might make her more important. Her season consisted of 66 total points—44 goals and 22 assists—along with 62 draw controls. She is the one Terp who seems to be all over the field, both offensively and defensively. In her four years at Maryland, the Terps have an 85-3 record with two national championships, and she’s started 86 of 88 possible games. She spent her first three seasons under the radar while playing the same position as the legendary Taylor Cummings. Now, her leadership and veteran presence combined with her production makes Stukenberg one of the best players ever in a decorated and successful program.