By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun
8:13 PM EDT, April 25, 2013
Katie Schwarzmann doesn't have the Tewaaraton trophy displayed prominently in her College Park house. For now, it sits on a shelf in the basement of her parents' Sykesville home.
Not that the Maryland senior wasn't honored to be named the best women's college lacrosse player in the country last spring. Her Tewaaraton Award eventually will have its perch of distinction. She just hasn't gotten around to that yet.
She's too preoccupied right now with reaching another goal — and to her, a loftier goal — for her final season as a Terp.
"Of course it was awesome to win the Tewaaraton," she said, "but it was also kind of bittersweet because we didn't win the national championship last year, so I think moving forward that's obviously the biggest goal, putting the team first. I just want to get back to the national championship game and win it again like we did freshman year."
Despite a trophy case full of awards, Schwarzmann has always put the team first and she certainly has the Terps in contention for another national title. Heading into Friday's Atlantic Coast Conference semifinal against Virginia in Chapel Hill, N.C., the No. 1 Terps (17-0) remain Division I's only unbeaten team.
The two-time national Midfielder of the Year, known for her explosive first step and overall speed and quickness, has started since the fourth game of her freshman year. Her game has always been superior, making her only the third four-time all-conference player in ACC women's lacrosse history as well as the fourth-leading goal scorer in Terps history with 218. She has made the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team all three years.
While Schwarzmann has mostly been content to lead by example, this season she has embraced a more vocal leadership role.
"This is her team now," senior attacker Alex Aust said. "She really has emerged into the captain role. Everyone obviously respects her on the field, but off the field, she's definitely become more vocal just realizing this is her last year here, so she doesn't want to leave anything unsaid."
The leadership role hasn't come as easily to Schwarzmann as her game, but she said coach Cathy Reese has helped her grow into the role in her second year as a team captain.
"That's something Cathy had to talk to me about, being more vocal," Schwarzmann said. "Initially, I'm more so leading by example and I'm more quiet in the sense where I'm not always yelling or saying certain things, but this year just going along with the whole I-don't-want-any-regrets thing, I'm trying to help out my teammates in the best way that I can, giving them advice when I can and asking for advice also. It's a two-way street."
That willingness to keep learning no matter how many accolades come her way is one of the keys to Schwarzmann's phenomenal success. She always believes she can get better and do more to help the team.
This season, in addition to being the Terps' second-leading scorer with 48 goals and 18 assists, she has also emerged as a shutdown defender. In an 8-3 win over Stony Brook last month, she held the Seawolves' Demmianne Cook, currently Division I's leading goal scorer, without a shot; Schwarzmann also contributed three goals and an assist.
In a 14-13 win over then-No. 2 North Carolina — which the Terps could meet again in Sunday's ACC championship — Schwarzmann scored five goals while playing a key role on defense.
"She's just a natural," North Carolina coach Jenny Levy said. "There's not anything that looks so hard. She runs easy and she's fast. She's quick. She's smart defensively. She can hurt you on-ball or off-ball offensively, and yet you never see her make mistakes. She's very polished and she's very consistent both physically and emotionally. I'm a big fan of hers."
Schwarzmann had that poise as a high school player at Century in Carroll County, where she helped the Knights to three state Class 2A-1A titles and was The Baltimore Sun's 2009 All-Metro Player of the Year. She scored 307 goals in her high school career and set a state record with nine goals in the 2009 state championship victory — a mark that still stands.
The youngest of three lacrosse-playing sisters — Ashley and Lauren played at Johns Hopkins — and a three-sport athlete at Century, she always seemed to have a precocious feel for lacrosse.
"She is just capable of every aspect of the game," said her high school coach, Rose Pentz, "and she will adjust to the adversity under that pressure. She doesn't even look like a player under pressure. She'll just do what she's told, and I think a lot of it may be because — aside from the important pieces of the athleticism and her speed and the skill — she had the knowledge of the game. She was a student of the game, and when you understand the concepts, you can see things a step or two ahead."
One of the things that has helped her continue to grow has been experience on the national level. Schwarzmann has played with the U.S. national team since 2010 and, at 21, is the youngest player on the team that will compete in July at the Federation of International Lacrosse Women's World Cup in Oshawa, Ontario.
"It's really helped with my confidence and just being able to play in different situations and game scenarios," Schwarzmann said. "On U.S., we have a very different philosophy in how we play offense, how we play defense, so just being exposed to different things and then I can bring them back here to Maryland and help my teammates with that."
Schwarzmann helped the Terps to a national championship as a freshman, an appearance in the title game as a sophomore and an appearance in the final four last season. From winning ACC Rookie of the Year to being a potential three-time first-team All-American to winning the Tewaaraton, she has achieved about every honor there is.
Yet she still marvels that young girls who stand in line for her autograph the way she did with her idol Jen Adams. No matter that Schwarzmann now wears the same No. 7 that Adams, still the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, did at Maryland when she won the first Tewaaraton in 2001.
Schwarzmann still has the stick Adams autographed for her more than a decade ago. Even though she will play in the World Cup against Adams, who is from Australia, Schwarzmann still can't quite picture herself in the same lacrosse stratosphere with her hero.
"It's funny how I grew up idolizing her," Schwarzmann said, "and I've worked camps with her and I've become kind of good friends with her. Coming here to Maryland and even wearing No. 7, it's awesome the opportunities that I've had."
She's taken advantage of every one to become the best, so now it's time to start thinking in the stratosphere — and to think about bringing the Tewaaraton out of the basement and into the spotlight.
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