On one end of the Maryland women’s lacrosse locker room, sophomore attacker Libby May dances like the Energizer Bunny as the team prepares for battle. On the other end, senior attacker Catie May keeps to herself as she builds on her mental preparedness.
When it comes to pregame rituals, the two sisters couldn’t be further from the same. The hype train and the calm before the storm mentalities would typically clash in a confined space, but Catie and Libby find a way to make it work.
The differences don’t stop there, from the paths each took to end up playing for the Terrapins to even their play styles on the field, too.
While these differences help define Catie and Libby as individuals, their mother Lauren Faby put it perfectly, their differences complement one another.
Growing up with two older sisters — Emily, who played at Lehigh for two years and Caroline, who played at Florida for four years — Catie and Libby were entrenched in the sport of lacrosse from the get-go.
“Traveling to [our sisters’] practices, Libby and I would go with our mom and sit on the sideline,” Catie said. “Eventually we’re like ‘okay, enough of this we’re joining.’ So we picked up sticks and kind of just went in with our older sisters.”
After learning from the sidelines, the sisters joined the Sky Walkers Lacrosse Program, but they never got to share the spotlight because of the age difference. That separation segued into the different routes at the high school level.
Catie joined the prestigious McDonogh School program, the alma mater of Maryland legendary midfielder Taylor Cummings, where she won four straight IAAM championships and didn’t lose a game in her entire career. The private school path set up the older of the two to become a highly-touted recruit in the class of 2017.
Libby, on the other hand, stayed local and became a key player for the Hereford Bulls, a public school just down the road from the May’s hometown of Sparks, Maryland. She tallied 176 career goals for the Bulls and was an all-county selection in all four years.
The two took polar opposite paths in high school, but they both learned valuable lessons that ultimately paid dividends upon their arrival in College Park.
While Catie was at McDonogh, her team never lost a game (the program’s win streak lasted for 198 games until May of 2018) but even with that success, she experienced a fair share of challenges that molded her into the player she eventually became.
“There was a lot of pressure not to lose,” Catie said. “What our coach taught us was to take every game, one game at a time and just focus on the next play, focus on that moment and winning that moment.”
Catie took that mindset in stride and expanded that into her collegiate career. Libby followed suit with a phenomenal climb to the top of Baltimore County with Hereford.
While at Hereford, Libby’s lacrosse team was constantly deemed as the underdogs. Her senior season in 2019 saw a change, however, as the Bulls managed a perfect 17-0 record before losing to South Carroll in the MPSSAA Class 2A State Championship game.
Despite the lack of recognition Hereford received from the media, Libby credited the team’s chemistry as a key to its success. Playing to their strengths helped the Bulls earn the credit they deserved, which in turn paved the way for Libby’s success at the next level.
Her decision to join her sister at Maryland wasn’t solely motivated by the sibling connection. Rather it was mostly driven by the winning culture and great team dynamic.
“Everyone is just there for each other, they play for each and the coaches are devoted to each and every person,” Libby said. “There’s no hierarchy, it was everyone is there for each and every one of them and I absolutely loved it.”
The less than similar paths eventually converged in College Park, proving just how perseverant Catie and Libby’s sisterly bond is despite such a flurry of differences. That goes past personality too, as the two are complete opposites when it comes to their individual play on the field.
While both are attackers, Catie and Libby have adapted unique playing styles.
Catie, for instance, lives behind the net. Her patience on the offense sets up her teammates with ease, as evidenced by a higher assist total than scoring output. Catie enters the NCAA Tournament with 15 assists and 13 goals.
Libby on the other hand is pedal to the metal. Her speed on the offense is unmatched at times, leading to bursts of offensive firepower that are tough to slow down which accounts for her 22 goals.
Catie and Libby have connected six times this season. Their differing styles of play fit like a glove with one another, and despite having not played together since they were in elementary school, the May sisters developed on-field chemistry almost instantaneously in 2020.
That was until Libby’s first taste of collegiate play was cut short due to the coronavirus cancellation. While that period of time certainly put a halt on what was anticipated to be a thrilling two years to get to play together once again, the tight-knit siblings emerged from that hiatus with an even stronger bond.
After spending quarantine binging the Star Wars saga and staying in shape by working with one another in their backyard and at the local field, Catie and Libby ventured into a new outlook on their final hoorah together.
“It makes me more grateful and more willing and motivated to play well together because our time is cut so short,” Libby said.
Catie added, “We’re definitely trying to have the most fun possible out of the time we have left together. Just making every day count and pushing each other to be our best selves too.”
They took different paths to get to the Terrapin program, have varying preparations ahead of games and even exude opposing playing styles on the offense. Nevertheless, the similarities line up like dominoes for Catie and Libby.
“There’s always sibling rivalries, but these two just are always positive about each other and it’s more about uplifting each other than it is trying to one up on each other,” their father Chris May said.
That goes for every facet of their relationship. They have always had each other's backs. Despite having an extra bedroom growing up, the two choose to bunk together. They even developed a secret language when they were younger — a lingo that their parents still haven’t deciphered.
“Although they are two years apart they act like twins,” Faby said.
The path of collegiate lacrosse came full circle, and even their career plans after graduating are along the same track, as both hope to pursue medical school upon finishing their undergraduate degrees.
It was a less than ideal sample size for their first time sharing the field in 10 plus years, but after going through last year’s sudden change of events, this year’s end-of-season run holds a higher prestige.
Maryland will kick off its NCAA Tournament slate on May 14 versus High Point. One slip up against the Panthers would put an end to not just the team’s hopes at a national championship, but the May sisters’ reunion on the field.
“There is nothing that [Libby] wants more than to share [a championship] with Catie,” Chris said. “She will absolutely do everything she can to get one.”
For all they have gone through to get to this moment, it would be a fitting end to their on-field tenure to hoist the trophy, hand-in-hand. But even if that scenario were to fall short, Catie and Libby have set a fine example of how siblings — despite all the bickering, differences and disagreements — can provide a crucial backbone for each other.