Virginia's surge to No. 5 after upsetting Atlantic Coast Conference rivals Duke and Boston College over the past two weeks came with some exceptional play from a core of players from Baltimore — led by freshman goalie Rachel Vander Kolk.
The Severna Park graduate, who has played every minute of every game, made 18 saves in the Cavaliers' 15-13 win over then-No. 2 Boston College.
With one goalie who did not return to the team and another, freshman Carrera Lucas (St. Paul's), focusing mostly on field hockey, Vander Kolk is often the team's lone goalie.
Cavaliers coach Julie Myers said knowing she's the starter takes some pressure off of Vander Kolk and puts a completely different kind of pressure on.
"There's a lack of anxiety in terms of trying to figure out where she fits in terms of the whole lineup and then there's the reality that she can never be off because she's the only one, but it gets her so many reps in practice that it makes her always focused," Myers said. "She handles it with great maturity and works really, really hard and she's an incredibly smart kid."
Vander Kolk made 12 saves in Wednesday night's 15-13 victory over Navy. She's allowed 10.5 goals per game, but the Cavaliers have averaged 15 in winning their past six games.
Liza Blue (Garrison Forest), Kelly Boyd (St. Paul's) and Kelly Reese (Severn) all play big roles in the offense.
Blue a fifth-year player and one of the Cavaliers' most consistent players throughout her career, leads the team with 34 goals and also has 10 assists. Boyd, who scores on 85 percent of her shots, has 22 goals and five assists. Reese comes off the bench and has added 18 goals and four assists.
Team captain Kelsey Gahan (Notre Dame Prep) leads the field defense. Maggie Preas (McDonogh) started 10 games on defense before breaking an ankle in the win over Duke on March 21. Ella Cooper (Friends) has started nine games.
In the midfield, Daniela Eppler (Roland Park) is a key to transition with her speed, while Posey Valis (McDonogh), Caroline Seats (Roland Park) and Brooke Boyd, Kelly's twin, are challenging for playing time.
Myers has always recruited from the Baltimore area and has probably never had a team in her 20 years with the Cavaliers without players from Baltimore.
"They all add to our team more than I can explain," she said. "I don't think you can have a lacrosse team without Baltimore being represented. They know lacrosse so well, because I feel like they're born and raised with it."
Another broken record
Earlier this season, senior attacker Annie Thomas became the first player in Loyola Maryland women's lacrosse history to notch 100 career goals and 100 career assists. Wednesday night, she continued rewriting the Greyhounds record book by breaking the mark for career assists.
With her second assist in a 15-5 win at Towson, Thomas surpassed the mark of 120 set by Rachel Shuck in 2005. Thomas added another assist, along with four goals in the win over Towson, to push the new record to 122.
The John Carroll graduate now stands fifth on Loyola's all-time points list with 247 behind Marlee Paton (277), Janet Eisenhut (284) Stacey Morlang (288) and Grace Gavin (311).
Navy senior Loren Generi is just the third player in NCAA Division I history to win more than 400 career draws. Generi, who has 96 draw controls this season, has 436 for her career. She trails only Robert Morris junior Jessica Karwacki (Hereford), who set a new NCAA record with 478, and the previous record-holder, Northwestern's Alyssa Leonard, who had 469. ... Maryland has won 21 straight games. The Terps' longest winning streak was 50, a run that ended in 1997. ... Two Division I teams remain undefeated — Maryland and Stony Brook. ... Maryland ranks second in Division I in scoring margin, +7.5 goals per game. ... Johns Hopkins' KC Emerson ranks second in Division I in save percentage at .581 and Johns Hopkins ranks fourth in scoring defense, allowing 6.3 goals per game.