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Women's lacrosse notes: Local trio helps Penn State to hot start

After returning to the NCAA semifinals last season for the first time in 17 years, No. 5 Penn State is off to a hot start again — 6-0 entering Wednesday — with three Baltimore-area players helping lead the way.

Seniors Steph Lazo (St. Mary's) and Abby Smucker (C. Milton Wright) were All-Big Ten selections last season and sophomore Madison Carter (South River) was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

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Lazo went into Wednesday leading the team in scoring with 20 goals and 19 assists. She moved into 10th place on the Nittany Lions' career assists list with 65 after dishing out three in Saturday's 12-8 win at Loyola Maryland.

Carter, who missed her senior season at South River with an injury, started every game last year and contributed at least a point in every game, finishing as the Nittany Lions' third-leading scorer and a key to the draw control. This season, she entered Wednesday leading the team in goals with 22 and draw controls with 36.

"Steph definitely has done a great job of organizing our offense and handling the ball, kind of starting things up for us," Penn State coach Missy Doherty said. "Madison is a great cutter. I think Steph sees her pretty well and has assisted on a lot of her goals and a lot of our other attackers are looking for her in the middle."

Smucker, who played defense the past two seasons, has moved back to the midfield where she contributes all over the field. She had four goals and an assist before Wednesday, and was one of the team leaders in caused turnovers.

"Abby's just really, really smart," Doherty said. "Defensively, she can think ahead of what the other team's doing and offensively she just does a good job of knowing what's coming next. ... She does a great job anticipating and making some really big plays, whether they're charges or interceptions or now on the offensive end, she's been starting to do a really good job of creating and scoring, too."

The Nittany Lions, who fell 12-11 to eventual champion North Carolina in the national semifinals last season, the goal is to get back to the final four. And these three leaders will play a big role in that.

"As we go through the season, we're going to push all of those guys into even more roles," Doherty said. "I think there's been a comfort level that we've been able to score on some of the same things, but I think as we continue to get better, we're going to look for even more out of those guys."

Penn State returns to Maryland twice this season when it plays No. 18 Johns Hopkins on March 25 and for the Big Ten Tournament in College Park beginning May 4. The Nittany Lions play No. 1 Maryland in State College, Pa., on April 20.

Levy wins No. 300: North Carolina coach Jenny Levy became the third coach in Division I history to win 300 games when the No. 2 Tar Heels defeated Canisius on Sunday.

Levy is the only coach the defending national champions have had, starting the program from scratch in 1996. She joins Navy's Cindy Timchal (477) and Princeton's Chris Sailer (375) as the only Division I coaches to reach the 300-win milestone.

"It is hard to believe our Carolina lacrosse program has achieved a milestone of 300 wins — it feels like yesterday when we got win No. 1," Levy said a statement. "A huge thank you and congratulations to the many great assistant coaches, student-athletes and families, support staff and administrators who have all contributed to this milestone."

Levy, who played at Roland Park, led Virginia to the 1991 national championship and was the 1992 national Attacker of the Year. She guided the Tar Heels to two national championships in the past four seasons and was national Coach of the Year both times, 2013 and 2016.

Davey giving Virginia Tech a boost: Virginia Tech has been one of the rising programs in Division I this season and it put together a statement win Saturday — its first over Duke.

Marriotts Ridge graduate Marissa Davey, a junior midfielder in her first season in Blacksburg, scored a career-high four goals and dished out an assist as the Hokies improved to 7-2 and rose to No. 14 in the Inside Lacrosse poll.

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With last month's 18-12 win over Boston College, the Hokies are 2-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They haven't won two ACC games since 2004.

Against Duke, on the road in Durham, N.C., Virginia Tech ran up a 5-0 lead and led 10-2 when Davey assisted Emma Harden about nine minutes into the second half. Davey, who played the past two seasons at UMBC, scored twice in the opening run.

"Marissa was all over the place for us. She did a great job running the offense," Virginia Tech coach John Sung said in a statement.

Davey entered Wednesday third on the team with 24 points, including 18 goals. She also had seven draw controls and five caused turnovers.

Quick hits: Loyola's Taylor VanThof won 14 draws in the Greyhounds' 15-14 loss at then-No. 12 Princeton on March 1 — just one shy of her sister Taryn's school record set two years ago. ... Navy is tied for second in the nation in scoring offense with 16 goals per game. ... Duke's Olivia Jenner (McDonogh) is seventh in the nation in draw controls, averaging 6.5 per game. ... Maryland goalie Megan Taylor entered Wednesday ranked fourth nationally in save percentage (.585) and fifth in goals-against average (7.23). ... No. 8 Colorado's 6-0 start is the best in program history.

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