When the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the 2020 lacrosse season for Maryvale Prep, sophomores Courtney and Lauren Savage only hope was to get on the field over the summer with their club team and make an impression for college coaches.
Fortunately, the Catonsville residents got that chance with the Redshirts 2022 squad under coach Dave Kennedy and through live action and video they proved their worth for the next level.
Earlier this month, the juniors both committed orally to play lacrosse for Division I schools.
Courtney will play at the University of Pennsylvania and Lauren will continue her lacrosse career at James Madison University.
Juniors were allowed to make oral commitments Sept. 1 and both girls got several calls from Division I coaches on that day.
“I think I got 13 calls on Sept. 1st from Division I schools,” said Lauren, who was drawn to James Madison and coach Shelly Klaes, who played her high school lacrosse at Loch Raven. “The coaching staff just made me feel like I could be a part of their lacrosse family. I really love the campus and I love the coaches, obviously the lacrosse program is so good, just coming off their national championship win in 2018.”
Kennedy has been coaching triplets Lauren, Courtney and Alex in the Redshirts program since they were in the sixth grade.
“All three of these girls, their abilities with stickwork is just way, way above average,” Kennedy said.
Alex played on the JV along with Courtney at Maryvale in 2018, while Lauren was on varsity as a freshman.
In 2019, Courtney joined Lauren on the varsity, while Alex decided to focus on pole vaulting in indoor and outdoor track and academics.
“Alex doesn’t plan to play lacrosse in college, she wants to pursue academics and try and become a doctor,” Kennedy said.
Although Lauren and Courtney have two more seasons at Maryvale, the college teams are no doubt getting top recruits.
“They fit academically and competitively, both girls going to top 10 programs in the country,” Kennedy said.
Lauren is a midfielder who scored 33 goals and had 11 assists, 20 draw controls and 18 ground balls for her club team during the 2019 season.
“What a lot of the coaches like about her is she has got good vision, she is two-way and she does a great job on the circle,” Kennedy said. “She’s a leader on the field.”
She can also run endlessly as she proved by winning the small and medium schools JV cross country race at the 2019 Bull Run Invitational at Hereford High.
“Lauren can run all day and she will run until she is face down in the ground,” Maryvale coach Kim Dubansky said. “She will just give you her all and she’s great at boxing out on the draw and comes up with awesome ground balls.”
The boxing out was likely learned playing basketball, which they did through the eighth grade.
Their father, Kevin, played basketball at Loyola Blakefield for their grandfather, coach Jerry Savage, who passed away in 2015.
The legendary coach Savage led Loyola Blakefield to five Baltimore Catholic League titles in his 35 years at the school and he was selected to the inaugural BCL Hall of Fame in 2011.
“It was something we never really put a lot of time into, but we always really liked it because my whole dad’s side of the family grew up playing basketball and my grandfather obviously was a big name in basketball.” said Lauren, who runs cross country and indoor track at Maryvale, while sporting a 4.07 grade point average. “I did really like basketball and it’s very similar to lacrosse, like the way it functions, so I think it did help in lacrosse actually.”
It may have aided her in becoming a complete player on the lacrosse field.
“On defense, she has terrific body position, so she is a really good one-on-one defender,” Dubansky said. “Offensively, she is just really shifty on her dodges.”
In addition to helping her teammates with dodges, defense and draw controls, she helped them get some exposure from college coaches.
“Lauren made recruiting videos for most of her teammates and that takes a lot of time, but she wanted to help every girl on the team to get recruited to college,” Kennedy said. ""The parents (Kevin and Jill) have volunteered and filmed games the last year or two. They are a family that always does as much as they can to help out the team and the club."
Editing game film came naturally for Lauren.
“I really like analyzing film and watching film and I think that is a great way to improve," she said. “Just as much as I wanted to be recruited, I know my teammates wanted to be recruited, so I was just kind of helping them get there too.”
She made one for Alex, but Courtney makes her own, which is probably best because Lauren enjoys watching her play in person.
“I’m kind of amazed by what she does,” Lauren said. “She’s honestly my favorite player to watch because she is so unique. I’ve never seen someone quite like her, so I would say it hasn’t really gotten old.”
Both Lauren and Courtney were chosen as all-stars at the University of Maryland’s Maximum Exposure Lacrosse Camp this summer and Courtney won the Berkeley Bear Award, awarded to the best player on my team, at Cal Berkeley’s summer camp.
“Courtney is just really dynamic with the ball,” Dubansky said. “She is very creative and she puts a lot of work and time into lacrosse and keeping her stick skills and she is always pushing herself to get better.”
Although Dubansky didn’t get a chance to see her play last year, Courtney put up some staggering numbers over the summer as an attacker.
She had 67 points (team leader) with 39 goals and 28 assists for the Redshirts, along with 66 draw controls, 23 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers.
“She has terrific fakes and terrific assists and just a really smooth stick,” Dubansky said. “She kind of plays with a loose stick, a little bit more like boys lacrosse and a little bit more like Canadian lacrosse.”
“She has got a bag of tricks, like skills that you don’t see very much in the girls game, like pass fakes, twizzlers, fake twizzlers and behind the backs,” he said. “She leads our team in almost every statistical category and she is a true attacker behind the cage.”
Courtney credits Kennedy for encouraging her to work on her stick skills.
“He showed me the pass fake, one of the things I do, so I think I kind of worked off of that to come up with moves that I’ve never seen people do before and I think that has kind of turned me into the creative player that I have become,” Courtney said. “Kind of in my head sometimes I will just try new things like if there is a certain circumstance where I think something could work, then I might just try it.”
Her stickwork and ability definitely got the attention of college coaches and Penn was her perfect fit out of the 15 schools that reached out to her on Sept. 1.
“Immediately I felt the coaches knew me as a player and that I could become a part of their program, which is obviously a very competitive very good program and also the school itself is a very top academic school,” Courtney said.
Her work ethic would be a welcome asset at any school.
Kennedy gave his Redshirt teams the Snypr Challenge, which is an app worn on the arm to count the wall ball reps a player makes in a two-month period.
“At the end of two months she had 75,000 reps,” said Kennedy, noting it was tops in his entire program. “You could see your team, the Mid-Atlantic region or the world and the closest in the world to Courtney during that time period was like 25,000. They all have a great work ethic, but she is kind of above and beyond.”
Courtney didn’t have to go far to handle the challenge.
“I have brick wall in my kitchen that I’ve just been fortunate to have, especially when it is cold or when I don’t feel like going out to the yard,” she said. “It’s just convenient because my stick is right there and I can just kind of pick it up and get some reps in.”
Getting to play with her sisters on the Redshirts has also been a bonus.
“We totally connect really well as players and we can kind of read what each other is going to do, so I think it’s been really fun,” she said.
One day, the three girls were going to have fun throwing the javelin at her uncle Larry Pickett’s house and Courtney left them in shock.
“We kind of had a little competition between my sisters and I and no one was expected to be good at it or anything and it was kind of bizarre mine went way further then theirs,” she recalled. “They said my form was actually pretty good, especially for never having thrown one or even knowing what javelin is."
Pickett signed her up for an AAU meet and she qualified for regionals. At regionals she threw it 89-feet, 8 inches and qualified for Junior Olympics and she competed in Greensboro.
For the 2020 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champion Maryvale indoor track team she has run personal bests of 2:28 in the 800 meters and 1:25 in the 500.
She also led the championship soccer team in 2019 with seven assists while maintaining a 4.15 grade point average.
“They are all multi-sport athletes and they do very well in their other sports,” Kennedy said.
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