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Maryland women earn top spot in media, coaches' preseason lacrosse polls

A “shock to the system,” national player of the year Taylor Cummings called the loss to Ohio State, which ended a 27-game winning streak for the Maryland women's lacrosse team. If Maryland was supposed to run roughshod over the Big Ten in any sport, it was probably lacrosse. Instead, the mighty Terps, hyped as perhaps the best team in the sport's history, didn't even make the final of their conference tournament. Fortunately, Cummings and her teammates still had time to write a tale of rapid redemption in the NCAA tournament. The Terps rolled to the final, where they had to stage another rally, from a three-goal halftime deficit, against North Carolina, the team that had knocked them off in the 2013 championship game. Led by Cummings and freshman Megan Whittle, they pulled out a 9-8 victory to earn their second straight national title and the program's 13th overall. Cummings (McDonogh), a junior midfielder, also picked up her second consecutive Tewaaraton Award as the nation's top player.
A “shock to the system,” national player of the year Taylor Cummings called the loss to Ohio State, which ended a 27-game winning streak for the Maryland women's lacrosse team. If Maryland was supposed to run roughshod over the Big Ten in any sport, it was probably lacrosse. Instead, the mighty Terps, hyped as perhaps the best team in the sport's history, didn't even make the final of their conference tournament. Fortunately, Cummings and her teammates still had time to write a tale of rapid redemption in the NCAA tournament. The Terps rolled to the final, where they had to stage another rally, from a three-goal halftime deficit, against North Carolina, the team that had knocked them off in the 2013 championship game. Led by Cummings and freshman Megan Whittle, they pulled out a 9-8 victory to earn their second straight national title and the program's 13th overall. Cummings (McDonogh), a junior midfielder, also picked up her second consecutive Tewaaraton Award as the nation's top player. (RICH SCHULTZ / Associated Press)

Maryland's two-time defending national champion women's lacrosse team was selected the preseason No. 1 in the Inside Lacrosse media poll and the Interscholastic Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association poll, both announced Monday.

The Terps, coming off a 21-1 season, earned every vote for the top spot in the coaches' poll and all but one in the media poll. No. 2 North Carolina, the team the Terps defeated 9-8 in last year's title game, got one vote.

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In the media poll, No. 3 Syracuse, No. 4 Northwestern and No. 5 Duke round out the Top 5 followed by Big Ten champion Penn State at No. 6.

The IWLCA has the same Top 6 teams but Duke is No. 4 and Northwestern, No. 5.

Loyola Maryland, the defending Patriot League champion, comes in at No. 12 in the media poll and No. 13 in the coaches' poll.

Johns Hopkins, one of only two independents in Division I, is ranked No. 17 in both polls. The Blue Jays will play in the Big Ten next year

Towson and Navy received votes in the media poll.

Although Maryland return just five starters, the Terps bring back the best player in the game, two-time Tewaaraton Award winner Taylor Cummings. The three-time first-team All-American has also won the past two Honda Awards and IWLCA National Midfielder of the Year awards.

The McDonogh graduate, a two-time Baltimore Sun Female Athlete of the Year and girls lacrosse Player of the Year, contributed 100 points, including 63 goals last season, but also won 143 draws, fifth most in Division I, and excelled on defense with 36 caused turnovers.

The Terps also return high-scoring sophomore Megan Whittle, Cummings' former teammate at McDonogh. Whittle, The Sun's Player of the Year in 2014 and a third-team All-American last spring, scored 67 goals last season and added five assists. She played a key role in the title victory with three goals and an assist.

A third high-powered attacker also returns, junior midfielder Zoe Stukenberg, a Marriotts Ridge graduate and The Sun's 2013 Player of the Year. The second-team All-American scored 38 goals and had 22 assists last season.

Also back are senior defenders Alice Mercer, a second-team All-American and Century graduate, and Nadine Hadnagy -- key components in a unit that allowed just 7.27 goals per game.

The Terps, who have won three of the past six national titles and 12 overall,  open their season at home against William & Mary on Feb. 13.

They face a rematch of last year's national championship with North Carolina on Feb. 27 in Chapel Hill. Maryland and North Carolina have played in two of the past three national finals with the Tar Heels edging the Terps, 13-12 in overtime, for the 2013 title.

Following is the Inside Lacrosse preseason media poll. Click here to see the IWLCA poll.

1. Maryland

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2. North Carolina

3. Syracuse

4. Northwestern

5. Duke

6. Penn State

7. Stony Brook

8. Florida

9. Notre Dame

10. Virginia

11. Boston College

12. Loyola

13. Princeton

14. Penn

15. Stanford

16. Louisville

17. Johns Hopkins

18. USC

19. Ohio State

20. Albany

Also receiving votes: James Madison, Boston University, Georgetown, Harvard, Jacksonville, Connecticut, Towson, Denver, Navy, Massachusetts, New Hampshire.

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