"It's starting to sink in a little bit," she said Friday afternoon.
However, "it was complete shock," when she heard her name announced as the winner at the 17th annual Tewaaraton Award ceremony Thursday night at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
"I was like, 'Oh my God, there is no way. I can't believe that just happened,' because this past week we've just been enjoying our national championship win and reflecting back on just the most amazing four years. All the finalists were so well deserving of the award and getting to know them, they're just awesome people. [Fellow Terps Tewaaraton finalist Nadine Hadnagy] and I were just, 'Oh my gosh.' and I was like, 'Oh no. That means I have to talk.'
"They made fun of me for being so deer-in-the-headlights: 'We've never really seen you like that,' but I was a deer in the headlights," Stukenberg said with a laugh, "but it was amazing."
Stukenberg, a former Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year at Marriotts Ridge, gave the Terps their sixth straight Tewaaraton and their eighth since it was first presented in 2001. Taylor Cummings (McDonogh) became the first three-time winner last year and Katie Schwarzmann (Century) won twice before that.
"To be mentioned in the same sentence as Caitlyn McFadden and Jen Adams, Taylor Cummings and Katie Schwarzmann, it's like shocking," she said. "I'm not sure that I am worthy or deserving, but it is truly such an honor and those women, now they're my friends. Now I'm a Terp alum just like all of them and I'm so excited to be a Terp alum and see what this group can do over the next, forever. I just love the Terps."
After edging out the four other Tewaaraton finalists -- defender Hadnagy, Stony Brook attacker Kylie Ohlmiller, North Carolina midfielder Marie McCool and Princeton attacker Olivia Hompe -- Stukenberg is probably the only one wondering whether she belongs in that company. The most prestigious award in her college sport just added more polish to an already impressive resume.
“Zoe is such a special person,” Terps coach Cathy Reese said after the ceremony. “She works so hard in everything that she does, and has such an incredible, infectious attitude. It's been an honor to coach Zoe these past four years, and I'm so proud of her for earning this honor.”
Stukenberg had a sensational season in leading No. 1 Maryland (23-0) to their 14th national championship with Sunday's 16-13 victory over Boston College and to their fifth undefeated season.
At midfield, she emerged as the glue that held a young Terps team together, finishing in the top three in every statistical category. She had 53 goals, 31 assists, 74 draw controls and 21 caused turnovers.
Her on-field honors include first-team All-American and the all-tournament teams at the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament. Maryland has gone 89-3 over her four years with three national championships.
She is also one of four finalists for the Honda Sport Award in women's lacrosse along with Ohlmiller, McCool and Boston College attacker Kenzie Kent.
In addition, Stukenberg is a three-time Elite 90 Award winner as the women's lacrosse player in the Division I final four with the highest GPA. She maintained a 4.0 all through her four years at Maryland, where she majored in biological science.
She received Maryland's Big Ten Medal of Honor, presented to the top male and female student athletes in the graduating class at each of the conference's member schools, and is a CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Region selection.
Despite all of that, Stukenberg has always said she couldn't have earned any of those accolades without help -- a theme that made up her entire Tewaaraton acceptance speech.
"The main point I wanted to make was just that this trophy represents what my team accomplished this year. I am so proud of what my team was able to do and the way we did it. There's no way I win that award unless the Terps won the national championship," she said. "Every single of one my teammates and my coaches and every person who put in so much time and effort and energy and passion and enthusiasm this season was a part of that trophy. I just wanted to say thank you and how honored I was to receive that award kind of on behalf of all the Terps."
Making Stukenberg's celebration Thursday night even more special, Terps attackman Matt Rambo won the men's Tewaaraton also after leading his team to the national championship, 9-6 over Ohio State, Monday -- giving Maryland the double sweep of titles and Tewaaratons.
After attending Saturday's All-American banquet, she plans to take a couple of trips with her fellow graduating Terps lacrosse players. First, they're off to a resort in the Dominican Republic and then they'll head west for some time in California.
After that, she'll go to Philadelphia to begin training as part of a year-long commitment to Teach for America. In the fall, she will teach in a Baltimore City public high school.
In the meantime, Stukenberg doesn't know where she'll put the Tewaaraton trophy. She handed it off to her younger brother Max to take home with only one specific instruction, "Do not drop it."
She said she would have rather left it in the team locker room, because she feels it belongs to the whole team. Eventually, however, she will find a place of honor for it.
"The physical trophy is really cool and it's an honor and it's such an awesome thing," Stukenberg said, "but the memories from this season are what are more important to me."
Women's Tewaaraton Award winners
2001 Jen Adams, Maryland
2002 Erin Erbe, Georgetown
2003 Rachael Becker, Princeton
2004 Amy Appelt, Virginia
2005 Katie Chrest (Maryvale), Duke
2006 Kristen Kjellman, Northwestern
2007 Kristen Kjellman, Northwestern
2008 Hannah Nielsen, Northwestern
2009 Hannah Nielsen, Northwestern
2010 Caitlyn McFadden (Notre Dame Prep), Maryland
2011 Shannon Smith, Northwestern
2012 Katie Schwarzmann (Century), Maryland
2013 Katie Schwarzmann, Maryland
2014 Taylor Cummings (McDonogh), Maryland
2015 Taylor Cummings, Maryland
2016 Taylor Cummings, Maryland
2017 Zoe Stukenberg (Marriotts Ridge), Maryland