Midway through her senior year at Loyola University Maryland, Molly Wolf is still having fun being and being productive as the last line of defense for a surging Greyhounds lacrosse team riding a five-game winning streak.
After an ugly 1-4 start to the season that began with lopsided losses to the University of Florida and Syracuse University, the Bryn Mawr grad and her teammates had to face the unlikely proposition of turning around their season March 9 against a University of Virginia team averaging 12.5 goals per game.
Yet the Greyhounds — with Wolf making several key stops down the stretch — were able to hold the usually potent Cavaliers to less than half of their seasonal average while pulling out a 7-6 triumph.
Their only other win at that point was an overtime battle against Johns Hopkins University.
"That might have been the most exciting game of the year," Wolf said about edging the Blue Jays. "There was a two-hour rain delay….it was just crazy. I think I might have had five saves in overtime."
The win over the Cavaliers, though, was a springboard for consecutive victories over American University, Navy, Georgetown University and Boston University while renewing Loyola's optimism for a successful season in the Patriot League.
"The Virginia game was the turning point," said Wolf, who had a stellar .517 save percentage last season and just jumped over her predecessor, Kerry Stoothoff (528 saves), into fifth place on the program's all-time career save leaders with 531. "We started to find our groove. We are doing everything better now, shooting, ground balls, draws, everything."
Wolf posted a personal-best 14 saves to mark her 20th career double-digit save game and fifth of the season in a 10-6 over Boston University on March 26th to leapfrog Stoothoff.
Her play against Virginia, including seven saves, two caused turnovers and three ground balls, has been the catalyst for her own personal hot streak.
"I feel like I'm really seeing the ball better, and the way my defense is playing, it makes things 10 times easier," the Ruxton resident said, pointing toward senior low defender Maddy Lesher and her junior compatriots Taylor O'Connell, Amy Abdalla and Bailey Mathis.
Lesher said that Wolf, who is one of her best friends, has a presence in the goal that exudes confidence to the entire backline.
"On and off the field, she brings intensity," added Lesher, who totaled six ground balls against Boston University. "Against Virginia, when we really needed Molly to come up big, she did, and we locked it up. I don't think it was just one particular save that she made, it was how well she was playing. She was a huge presence."
Wolf has had plenty of seasoning at the collegiate level, considering that she has started all 72 games of her decorated career after facing 268 shots, allowing 114 goals and making 154 stops for a healthy 57 percent save rate as a senior at Bryn Mawr.
"She's an amazing goalie," said Maryvale midfielder Sam Darcangelo at the time. "You couldn't just shoot one way on her — low or high. We had to move her around."
Both players went on to compete for the South All-Stars in the Under Armour All-Amerca game at Johnny Unitas Stadium that June, and Wolf was named the Baltimore Messenger Player of the Year as well.
"Molly had the tough task of starting as a freshman," said Loyola coach Jen Adams, who was recently named the coach of the new women's semi-professional lacrosse team the Baltimore Ride. "She filled some big shoes with authority. I have a lot of faith and trust in what she does on the field. She's one of the most fun people to be around, and so competitive on the field."
Wolf said that adjusting to the college game was a challenge.
"College girls know how to shoot and they know how to score," she said. "And then there are time constraints between practice, scouting and training while you're in school."
She's also learning what it's like to coach now that she's mentoring Bryn Mawr netminders this spring for coach Jordy Kirr.
Wolf added that one thing she's learned from Adams is that she can't stop the former University of Maryland legend's shots in practice.
"She's so innovative with the stick, and she teaches our players to shoot from any angle or behind the back," Wolf said. "Every practice, she makes us better."