The 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse Women's Lacrosse World Cup starts today for the United States women's national team, which opens pool play against Scotland. Among the slew of talented women representing the U.S. are Carroll natives Alice Mercer and Katie Schwarzmann.
Mercer and Schwarzmann are one in the same, in some facets. The girls attended Century High School and played lacrosse under former coach Rose Pentz and went on to play at Maryland as well. They both expressed how proud they are to represent Carroll and have embraced the opportunity to join forces on a national stage.
"It's nice to have Katie here because we share a lot of the same experiences," Mercer said. "To kind of do it together, I feel not necessarily more comfortable, but having someone you've known your entire life from high school to college, we've seen each other grow as people and as players. It makes me proud to be from Carroll County and getting Carroll's name out there is so important, especially for up-and-coming lacrosse players."
The World Cup started Wednesday and runs until July 22 at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, England, where 25 nations are competing for the championship. Schwarzmann has been a member of Team USA since 2010 and this is her second time in a World Cup. She ranked fourth on the team with 10 goals during the 2013 World Cup run where the U.S. defeated Canada 19-5.
The U.S. has been to the World Cup finals each time the event's inception in 1982. Team USA won World Cup titles in 1982, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2009, and 2013. Australia won the crown by beating the U.S. in 1986 and 2005.
Mercer, a defender, joined Team USA in 2014 and this is her first year participating in a World Cup. It is not her first trip to England, however. Last summer, the team did a tour of England in a pre-World Cup tournament and Mercer played during the U.S.'s undefeated run.
"It's been really awesome," Mercer said of this week's experience in England. "It's kind of cool because it feels like we've been in our own little world if that makes sense ... It just feels like we've been in our own little bubble since we got here and it's cool to see all the other teams. We're all staying in the same area so you pass people you know and what not. It becomes so much more real that everyone is here playing lacrosse at the highest level representing their country. It's an awesome experience so far and I'm having so much fun with my teammates."
Mercer and Schwarzmann are joined by former Terps Taylor Cummings, Brooke Griffin, Alex Aust, and Megan Douty on the U.S. national team.
Schwarzmann, a midfielder, won back-to-back Tewaaraton Awards in 2012 and 2013, and Cummings took the next three from 2014-2016. This year's winner was Maryland midfielder Zoe Stukenberg, the Terps' sixth straight Tewaaraton recipient.
"It's really awesome to have six Terps here at the World Cup and one [Carroll] native," Schwarzmann said via text message. "Alice and I played together at Century for one year and at Maryland for one year. She is literally like my little sister, although people think I'm her little sister since she is so much taller than me.
"It's a really special opportunity to be able to share this with someone that is so close to me and from my hometown. I am so proud of her for all she has accomplished and will accomplish in the future."
Between meals, treatments and practices, the women of Team USA like to enjoy their down time, Mercer said. They scrimmaged Japan and Scotland at their previous practice facility prior to arriving at Surrey in leading up to their first game against Scotland today. Pool A also includes Australia, Canada, England and Wales, according to U.S. Lacrosse's website.
After their opener against Scotland, the team will play Australia, England and Canada over the weekend before a day off on Monday. They will finish pool play in a match against Wales on Tuesday.
The semifinals are set for July 20, and the championship slated for July 22.
"My favorite thing about the experience of playing for Team USA is being able to compete for something bigger than yourself," Schwarzmann said. "We are out here competing for one another and working hard to achieve a common goal. It truly is so special to wear the red, white, and blue and represent your country."