After leading No. 1 McDonogh to its 112th straight win and sixth straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship, Megan Whittle was the youngest player invited to try out for the U.S. national women's lacrosse team.
Even though she didn't make it, she savored the experience of playing with some of her idols.
Whittle, the All-Metro Player of the Year, was considered the top recruit in the Class of 2014 for several years, combining blistering speed with a wicked shot. In the Eagles last two games, she played key roles in overcoming deficits to assure they would be the No. 1 team in the country in every national poll.
Saturday, she will complete her high school career in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium before playing next year for national champion Maryland.
What was it like to try out for the national team?
I had a lot of fun and not only was it super challenging but it was also really awesome to meet all these new people and get a chance to play with the greatest out there. It was such an honor to even be there. I did my best and I think I did pretty well for not really having as much experience as the other people out there. I'm really, really glad I got to be a part of it.
What did you learn from the experience?
One of the best things I took away from the whole experience was the speed of the game. It is fast, but I felt like I could keep up with it, so it was pretty encouraging to think that the step up from McDonogh to college won't be as difficult, especially after getting some experience under my belt with the best people in the country. Speed was the main thing — how intense it is. Everybody's bigger, faster, stronger and everybody wants it. Especially at a tryout like that, it's very cutthroat and I couldn't ask for a better experience going into my college career.
After all your McDonogh team accomplished this season, what was the highlight for you?
I guess one of the many, going undefeated again was especially special this year, being a captain and being one of the leaders and seeing all my personal hard work pay off and everyone step up. Everything fell into place and we went above and beyond what anyone expected from us. The specific game memory is that Severn game, (the 13-12 A Conference semifinal when the Eagles trailed by two with six minutes to go and Whittle scored the game winner). That was so much fun. It was the closest game I'd played in a while and I think it just says something: We live for the challenges and every game we want a challenge. This year we had a few challenges and we were still able to overcome and continue on with the streak. With all the pressure around us, we handled everything.
How important was it to you to leave with the streak intact?
It's one of the greatest feelings ever. It's awesome just being a senior and feeling like I did my job. I was there for four years and we did it and we brought it together each year. It's just icing on the cake of my senior season, beating the national [winning streak] record with all the media and the hype that came with this year.
Why did you choose Maryland?
Everywhere I visited was a really good experience and then I went to Maryland and it was one of those things like, "I know." You know right away. Everyone always says when you visit colleges, you'll just know. I like [Terps coach Cathy Reese] and it was really important to me to stay close to home so my parents can come to all my games.
I still think we'll get all the challenges we want. If teams want to play us, they'll play us and we'll still be able to excel. We'll have Northwestern in our conference now, so we'll still have challenges in our conference. A lot more traveling. It's still exciting. Going in as a freshman, it's a new experience for me anyway.
What's your favorite things to do as an attacker?
I guess I would say I create the plays. I'm the dodger. It's always awesome to be able to beat the defender and go to goal, but assists are always good. Especially being a senior, being a captain, [defenders] would slide to me and that left all the opportunities in the world for Elizabeth George, Olivia Jenner, Brindi Griffin and everyone else being open. I think this year was good for me to work on my all-around game — not just taking it to goal every time, but being able to get the field sense for who's open and who has a better shot than I do, but still being able to get those tough shots when it's necessary.
What are you looking forward to about the Under Armour game?
It's just an honor to be selected and it's pretty cool that I was a part of the underclassmen tournament my freshman, sophomore and junior years. Each year, you watch the upperclassmen game. You watch all the girls in the cool uniforms and every year there were a couple McDonogh girls, and it's just like "that'll be me one day." It's crazy that it's finally this year. But it's also a really good experience to play with a bunch of girls that I haven't played with or that I played against in IAAM or in out-of-conference games, and I get to play with a couple of my fellow Maryland recruits. There's five of us. Steff (Holmes from McDonogh who is injured) can't play, but it'll be a good bonding experience. I'm really excited.