Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with a college lacrosse player to get you better acquainted with the player and his or her team. Today's guest is Loyola Maryland midfielder Taryn VanThof, a junior who set a school and Patriot League record for most draw controls with 15 against Lafayette two weeks ago. Her career total of 157 is closing in on the school record of 180 draw controls.
A native of Livonia, N.Y., about 30 minutes south of Rochester, VanThof bounced back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2012 to earn first-team All-Big East honors last season. She leads the No. 14 Greyhounds (7-4), who moved to the Patriot League this spring, in draw controls, caused turnovers and ground balls, and is third in scoring with 19 goals and six assists.
How did you get started playing lacrosse?
I started playing boys lacrosse in second grade. They didn't have much near me girlswise, so I didn't start playing on a women's team until JV in seventh grade.
What was the most challenging thing about the transition to the girls game?
Probably the pocket. I didn't mind the physicalness of the boys game. I was so little and I was probably bigger than most of the boys anyway, so it wasn't like I was at a disadvantage, but switching from a men's pocket to a women's pocket was definitely a challenging transition.
How different is the Patriot League from the Big East?
It's a different tempo, but we have to keep our mindset to come out with the same tempo no matter who the opponent is. We came from playing really big names, and the hype level for that was a lot bigger than the hype level we have coming into Patriot League games, but we've made our intensity the same and we're trying to match intensity each and every game.
As the person who takes the draw, what gives you an advantage in winning them?
It has a lot to do with positioning of my midfielders on the circle, and I talk to them before I set up for the draw. And even when I'm in the middle of the circle, just so I know where I can create the most space for myself and where I can create the most space for them by pushing it to them.
Dana (Loyola assistant coach Dana Dobbie) was pretty dominating on the draw. How much has she helped you?
Immensely. We work on it almost every day, and she has all these little tricks. It's crazy how much she knows about one little thing in lacrosse. It's absurd, and she's so helpful.
Do you think the game is headed toward draw control specialists the way the men's game has faceoff specialists?
I hope it doesn't happen. I wouldn't want to be a FOGO [face off, get off] for women's lacrosse. I can see how it's starting to happen, especially because we've decreased the number [of players] on the circle, so it's more focused on our center drawers, but I hope it doesn't ever get to that point. There's a few teams that do use it, but as a center, I don't think I'd want to just come in and come out.
What did you think about your behind-the-back-goal in the win over Lehigh going viral?
I saw it was posted on Lacrosse Playground. It was pretty exciting. My sister posted it on my [Facebook] wall, and a lot of my teammates congratulated me on it and said how sick it was. It's something I practice and something I decided to pull out in that game.
How did you learn that shot? Did you try it before you got to Loyola?
Yeah. Not as highly focused on it as here. Jen [Loyola coach Jen Adams] encourages creativity, so at practice our stick skills include behind-the-back passes and shots.
Is it a shot that's natural to you now or do you have to think about it?
That one came off pretty natural, but sometimes I have to think about it ahead of time and know where my defender is, but I was pretty open cutting across the crease and it was just an easy shot and finish.
Have you scored on it before?
Not from behind the back. I've done what they call the Twizzler, a [behind-the-back] flip shot, but I haven't done one of these.
Did you get your pet greyhound before you committed to Loyola?
Her name is Annie, and she came before I committed to Loyola. We have family friends who raise greyhounds, and she was the runt of the litter, so we took her.
Did you have pictures taken with her when you committed?
Yeah (laughs). I have a bunch. She thinks she's a little lapdog that can lay on the couch, but she's really this big, massive, skinny thing.
What is your major?
I'm a double major in management and marketing, but I have an extra year, so I'm not sure what I want to do with it afterward. I would like to coach initially out of college.
What draws you to coaching?
I coach my sister's club team in the summer every year and I want to share my knowledge of the game and what I've learned. Having a little sister [Taylor, a high school junior committed to Loyola] and having her always look up to me makes me realize there are girls younger than me who could definitely benefit from the things I've learned and the things I've gone through.