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Players with Baltimore ties dot the women's lacrosse World Cup landscape

Players with Baltimore ties dot the women's lacrosse World Cup landscape
Maryland attacker Megan Whittle (23) grabs a loose ball from the draw on April 12, 2017, in College Park. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Had anyone told Ashleigh Gloster during her senior year at Dulaney in 2003 that she would one day play in a women's lacrosse World Cup, much less for England, she would never have believed it.

One of Baltimore County's top players her senior year as Ashleigh Smith, she went on to play at Cornell. After college, she headed across the Atlantic Ocean to teach and coach lacrosse at an English middle and high school, Tudor Hall, which led her to connect with England's national team coaches. For six months, she helped coach before discovering that her lengthy residence made her eligible to play. She tried out and earned a roster spot on defense for the 2013 World Cup.

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This summer, she's back as captain and is one of more than a dozen players with ties to Baltimore-area high schools or state universities competing for international teams as England hosts the Federation of International Lacrosse Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup on July 12-22.

Gloster, now married to an Englishman, is thrilled to be playing again for England, one of few teams that might be able to challenge the juggernaut two-time defending champion United States.

"When I moved over to England I never expected to play at a high level again. You just think, 'College, that's it and it's over," said Gloster who will turn 32 during the World Cup. "It was such a blessing to have the opportunity to play at a high level again. My teammates are awesome. That's the reason I've carried on playing as long as I have, because I absolutely love my teammates. It's a really close-knit team."

Gloster has three teammates who played at Maryland: Megan Whittle, Laura Merrifield and Camilla Hayes. Whittle, a McDonogh graduate who will be a senior at Maryland in the fall, qualified to try out because her mother was born in England.

One of the top attackers in college lacrosse, Whittle brings a new look to England's offense along with Olivia Hompe from Princeton. Both ranked in the top 10 in Division I in goals this spring with Hompe scoring 75 and Whittle, 71.

Whittle, a former All-Metro Player of the Year who had helped the Terps to two national championships, made her first trip to England in January 2016 after learning she was eligible to play for the English team that finished fourth in the last World Cup.

She told Inside Lacrosse: "I reached out to Team England's coach [Phil Collier] just to tell him my story and I asked if it was possible to try out and play for the team. He got back to me right away and said, 'That works. We checked all the rules and we'd love to have you over to play.' "

Another former Terp, Laura Warren, will play in her fourth World Cup for her native Wales. Molly McCourt, a teammate of Warren's at Maryland in 2004 and an Oakland Mills graduate, is a Welsh assistant coach.

Jenna Baverman, who graduated from Roland Park and will be a junior at UMBC, will play for Israel.na Baverman, #27. Credit: Jack Miller, UMBC Athletics- Original Credit:
Jenna Baverman, who graduated from Roland Park and will be a junior at UMBC, will play for Israel.na Baverman, #27. Credit: Jack Miller, UMBC Athletics- Original Credit: (HANDOUT)

Israel's team includes four players who grew up in the Baltimore area. Kim Dubansky and Megan Lerner played at McDonogh. Sarah Meisenberg played at Severn. Jenna Baverman, the youngest of the four, graduated from Roland Park and will be a junior at UMBC in the fall. Head coach Lauren Paul Norris is also a McDonogh graduate.

"We have three girls that were on the World Cup team three years ago that are coming back," said Baverman, a veteran of Israel's Under-19 team, "but we have a lot of fresh legs, new faces, new people that can bring a lot more which is awesome. We have a lot of college experience. Almost everyone played Division I lacrosse and three played Division III at a high level, so we're definitely growing, which is awesome to be a part of."

Dubansky, who played at Johns Hopkins, and Meisenberg, who played at Franklin & Marshall, are in their second World Cups as Israel aims to improve on its eighth-place finish in 2013.

It's not surprising that the Terps have a strong presence at the World Cup. Six play for Team USA — Katie Schwarzmann (Century), Brooke Griffin (South River), Taylor Cummings (McDonogh), Alice Mercer (Century), Alex Aust and Megan Douty — and assistant coach Jess Wilk was also a Terp.

Megan Whittle, a McDonogh graduate who will be a senior at Maryland in the fall, will play for England.
Megan Whittle, a McDonogh graduate who will be a senior at Maryland in the fall, will play for England. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Australia's roster includes two Terps who are World Cup veterans, Sarah Mollison and Courtney Hobbs, as well as Theo Kwas, who just finished her senior year in College Park. Head coach Trish Adams also spent a year playing for the Terps. Australia won the bronze medal three years ago but took gold in 1986 and 2005 while the United States has claimed the other seven gold medals.

Another former Terp, Loyola Maryland assistant coach Dana Dobbie, is headed to her third World Cup for her native Canada, the 2013 silver medalist. Holly Lloyd, fresh off her first season with the Greyhounds, is an alternate for Canada, which counts former Terps assistant coach and Canadian lacrosse legend Gary Gait among its coaches.

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Navy assistant coach Gabby Capuzzi will play for Italy, one of eight teams competing for the first time this year, bringing the field to an all-time high of 25 teams.

Federation of International Lacrosse Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup

Where: Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, England

When: Wednesday through July 22

Two-time defending champion: United States

Team USA coach: Ricky Fried, second World Cup

Local U.S. players: Ally Carey (Vanderbilt, John Carroll), Kristen Carr (North Carolina, Mercy), Taylor Cummings (Maryland, McDonogh), Brooke Griffin (Maryland, South River), Alice Mercer (Maryland, Century), Kelly Rabil (James Madison, Hammond), Katie Schwarzmann (Maryland, Century)

Past gold medals: United States, seven; Australia, two

Live stream: 247.tv/live/lacrosse/rathbones-lacrosse-world-cup-2017, about $65 for the tournament; about $5.20 for one match

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