Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to help you become more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Johns Hopkins midfielder Sarah Taylor, from Farnham, England. Taylor, who leads the Blue Jays in goals with 36, played for the Scottish national team in the 2007 under-19 world championships and for England in 2011. This summer, she will play for England in the elite World Cup.
Taylor also has 23 draw controls and 17 ground balls for the Blue Jays, who visit Ohio State in the regular-season finale Sunday before hosting the American Lacrosse Conference tournament at Homewood Field beginning May 2. The junior is majoring in biology with a focus on pre-med.
Why did you want to come to college in the United States?
I love lacrosse, and coming over here gave me the opportunity to study for a really good degree and also play lots of lacrosse, whereas if I had stayed over in England, I would have been able to play, but it wouldn't have been to as high of a standard. Coming over here, I was able to learn a lot more. I also thought it would be really fascinating to spend a few years experiencing life in a completely different country. I've always loved America. I've come over here for a lot of vacations with my family, and all the people here are always so nice.
Why did you come to Johns Hopkins?
Hopkins is a great university. It has a really good reputation all around the world. Everyone's heard of it. When I decided that I wanted to come over here, I came to one of lacrosse camps over the summer, and I loved the coaches and I loved the atmosphere with all the players. Everyone got along so well, and it really felt like it was one big family. Something that I looked for and that I loved about the team is that you couldn't tell who the freshmen were from the seniors. Everyone mingled together so well. Everyone was all best friends with each other. And I just love the city of Baltimore, the Inner Harbor, Annapolis. My mom's obsessed with Annapolis. She always says she wants to buy a house down there. Everything was just all perfect — the lacrosse, the academics and the location.
Does your family ever get to come over and see you play?
They come over as often as they can. They come out for a week in the fall when we have consecutive weekends. They'll watch one tournament for the weekend and then maybe travel and watch another tournament the following weekend. And they'll maybe come out for a long spin during the season or they'll come over for short periods. One [parent] might come over so one can stay with my sister. They quite like coming to games that are away now. They've seen Annapolis and Baltimore a few times, so they go to away trips so they can travel and see different places. My mom loves Chicago now, and my dad liked it when we played Vanderbilt because he got to look around Tennessee. They like to make vacations out of it.
How is the style of the game different at Johns Hopkins than on your high school team in England?
It's more up-tempo. The midfield transition is a lot faster. You have to get in on defense quicker, and the pace of attack is much more fast moving. Playing at high school, it was a lot more settled and running through plays and going always for the most high-percentage [shot]. You were usually down [on attack] for long stints whereas here, it's sometimes a lot more back and forth with a few more people trying to push the fast break.
How has playing at Hopkins changed and improved your game?
I think I've grown a lot in confidence playing over here, just mentally preparing myself for games. Coach [Janine] Tucker has always told me since my freshman year I'm bigger, faster, stronger than anyone that I'll come up against, and I think this year has been finally the year where I've started believing and taking that mindset into games, going to goal and wanting to do my part and play the best I can for the team.
How has the Hopkins team grown this year through the ups and downs?
[Sunday's 15-14 loss] against Penn State, that was a tough loss. I definitely felt like we deserved to win that game, especially because we had two three-goal leads, but I have to give props to Penn State because they definitely didn't give up. They came back and finished the last seven minutes of the game really strongly. We definitely had great wins, like against Virginia and Loyola — and they were ranked above us when we played them — so they were highlights of our season. We have had a few lows, like losing against American, but sometimes you hit those lows and then you can rebound from it and get even better and stronger and closer as a team because of it.
What is the advantage of having the American Lacrosse Conference championship at home?
I love playing on Homewood Field. It's one of those amazing, iconic fields that every team wants to play on. Having it here, we'll have a lot of our family and friends being able to cheer us on, and I definitely think we'll go into the tournament believing and aiming that we can win it. I think we're capable of beating any team we come up against when we play our best.
Why did you play for Scotland in the 2007 Under-19 World Cup?
I was 14 or 15 when I did that. That came from my high school coach. She handed out fliers for tryouts for the Scottish national team, and my dad's side of the family is all from Scotland. Me and four of my friends went up to try out thinking it would be fun. We were young and we knew we would be coming up against older and stronger people. We thought it would be a great experience and we would learn new things. Me and one of my best friends managed to get through and play for Scotland in the under-19 [world championships]. It was an amazing experience. You learned a lot playing against the U.S. team and the English team, who were all so good.
Then you played for England this last under-19 world championships in 2012?
That was even better because I got to play with more of my friends. A lot of girls from other high schools that we play against, we then got to play together, and that was really amazing. Scotland was a really good team, but then England was kind of a step up. We got to play against Australia, Canada and the U.S. because we were in a higher pool. I played against Jen Cook, who transferred from Maryland to Hopkins, so that was really good.
What are you looking forward to most about the World Cup this summer in Canada?
I'm really excited to play with Laura Merrifield. She played at Maryland three years ago, and I've never really had a chance to play with her in a big setting like this, so I'm really excited to play with her for the first time.
What kind of doctor do you want to be?
I haven't fully decided, but I'm going toward orthopedic surgery. Bones always interested me because I broke a few in my day. I did work experience last summer back home following around some vascular surgeons, so I saw a few aortas and things to do with the heart. As interesting as that was, I'm not quite sure that's something I could do, but surgery looks like it's something I could do. Bones kind of avoid the gory blood [laughs]. You don't have the pressure of dealing with arteries and veins.
Do you think you'd like to be involved with sports medicine?
I think being involved in sports would actually be ideal for me.