Maryland women’s lacrosse put together a championship season in 2019, but the final weekend involved the shining of its brightest star. Senior goalie Megan Taylor not only won a second championship and the 2019 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award, but put herself on a pedestal for the entire game of lacrosse to recognize.
After a dominant season, Taylor became the first goalkeeper, in men’s or women’s lacrosse, to win the sport’s most prestigious honor, the Tewaaraton Award. She managed to beat out reigning winner Sam Apuzzo, who led the nation in goals and helped bring Boston College to the title game.
Taylor’s 2019 campaign included 23 starts, a .551 save percentage, 217 saves and just an 8.44 goals-against average. She also reached the 700-save mark for her career and set the record for most conference player of the week awards with six in a row from March 5 to April 9.
For the first time ever, all five finalists for the award played on championship weekend, and the three opposing finalists had to go through Taylor to get the prize. Against Northwestern, Taylor tied her season high with 14 saves, including two against Northwestern’s Selena Lasota — one of the finalists for the award. With the convincing 25-13 win, Maryland seemingly ended all hope for Lasota despite her three-goal performance that Friday evening.
The national championship game shaped up as the battle between No. 1 Maryland and No. 2 Boston College, as well as four Tewaaraton finalists — Apuzzo, Dempsey Arsenault, Jen Giles and Taylor — going head-to-head. Taylor was the standout, finishing with 10 saves and only 10 goals surrendered. She saved 5-of-9 shots sent her way by Apuzzo and Arsenault, and a 7-for-10 start allowed Maryland to build a lead it never relinquished.
Right after taking down the Eagles, Maryland head coach Cathy Reese was quick to note Taylor’s impact. “She was fantastic and made some unbelievable saves to anchor our defense, which I think played the best that it has all season, especially against an offense that’s as high-scoring as Boston College has been this year,” Reese said.
No matter how good she performs in net, though, Taylor is always very quick to give all individual credit to the defensive line of Lizzie Colson, Julia Braig, Shelby Mercer and Meghan Doherty that played in front of her.
“[The defense] made my job so easy,” Taylor said after the championship win. “I’ve been saying it all year, I believe I play with, in front of me, all All-Americans, 100 percent.”
Though the defense may have helped Taylor reach these heights, the rest of the team would simply not be the same without her. Whether it was on the field or off, Taylor was always a bubbly force of positivity, which is something an award does not count. Team success does tend to play a role in individual accolades, and Taylor certainly played her role in making her teammates better players.
“She makes every single one of us better,” senior attacker Caroline Steele said. “I have to shoot on her every single freaking day and she stops me and gets me frustrated every day of my life, and I mean, that’s one thing I’m gonna miss. Like, I’m gonna miss getting stuffed by Megan Taylor because these past for years, playing with her and playing with the people beside me, have been the best four years of my life.”
With an impact like that, it’s easy to see why Taylor was deserving of this award outside of her statistics. Even though she made history and earned the top individual honor with an incredible senior season and championship weekend performance, Taylor, on the biggest individual stage possible, again honored her teammates.
“To my Terps ... I’ve been saying it all year, I don’t want any individual award because you guys truly made this season everything I could have ever imagined,” Taylor said as she closed her Tewaaraton speech. “This award is for you guys, and I hope you know that. ... For the past four years, you have impacted my life in more ways than you guys can ever imagine. ... I would give anything, and I mean anything, to step on the field with you guys one last time in a Terps jersey. I love you guys so much, and I just want to say, forever Terp time.”