The most important thing a player can do in lacrosse is score goals. After all, the team with the most goals at the end of the game wins. Lighting up scoreboards isn’t the only way great players can make an impact, but it’s the most surefire method of doing so.
And nobody in Maryland history has been better at scoring goals than Megan Whittle.
“Life” is the term given to what happens between Whittle goals. She scored 67 times as a freshman, 76 as a sophomore and 71 as a junior. She has 83 goals this season, and that’s with at least one and potentially two games remaining. She outscored Denver in the NCAA Tournament, scoring six of Maryland’s 15 goals while the Pioneers totaled four. That was just a week after she scored eight times in the Big Ten title game. Whittle was quiet all of Saturday, until she wasn’t, scoring three unanswered goals to turn a 14-13 deficit into a 16-14 lead. The Terps won by two.
Add it all up, and Whittle is at 297 for her career. That’s second in NCAA history; the record was 289 before this year, and Maryland’s program record was 267. Whittle will talk more about the goals she and her team set to get better than the ones she scores, but there’s plenty of room to be simultaneously in awe of the individual total and the Terps reaching their 10th consecutive Final Four.
It has to be remembered that scoring across the nation has generally been up in recent years, and the addition of the 90-second shot clock in 2017 has helped with that. There were 19 individual 80-goal seasons entering 2018; there have been six this spring. Stony Brook’s Courtney Murphy scored 100 in 2016 and 95 this season; her career total is locked in at 341 goals. Whittle won’t approach that, but she’s another hat trick away from 300.
It’s hard to determine exactly how to react to this impending milestone. Whittle won’t be joining a club full of greats; she’d be only its second member, and 41 goals behind her only company. She’s already passed everyone else in women’s college lacrosse history. The level of celebration will probably depend on the circumstances of the game—if it’s a close contest or if Maryland is trailing, there won’t be too much time to soak in the moment. But it’ll be worth watching for, because there’s really no precedent here.
Whittle is entering the final weekend of her career, and she’s more likely than not to reach the 300-goal landmark. And she’s potentially two games away from adding a third national championship just for good measure. She’ll be in Maryland’s record books for years to come, so let’s appreciate that greatness while it’s still in a Terps uniform.