Taylor Cummings knows about the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Game. She played in it seven years ago while with McDonogh and enjoyed the experience.
Cummings took on a different role in the 14th version of the contest Saturday at Homewood Field — coach of the South team.
Normally, a coach such as Cummings would have been disappointed with the outcome, a 14-13 North win in overtime, but this was not a day to worry about wins and losses. Instead, Cummings and the players simply focused on enjoying the chance to take part in a game that featured so much talent.
“It’s an incredible experience,” Cummings said. “To be the best, you have to play against the best and play with the best. These girls competed out there. There’s so much talent every year at this event.”
Her South team led much of the way, but the North rallied and then won in overtime when goalie Delaney Sweitzer made a gutsy play, dashing to midfield and firing a pass to Livi Lawton. Lawton then scored the winning goal 1:28 into overtime.
Cummings coaches a McDonogh team that went undefeated and won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title in her first season.
She just enjoys the game so much that being part of it again was a joy.
“To coach girls going to Maryland [six overall, and that’s Cummings’ old school] and coach girls going to different places. … It just gives me more faces to look out for when I watch the college game now,” Cummings said. “What’s more fun than going and getting to compete and play lacrosse, the sport that you love?”
Shaylan Ahearn and Hannah Leubecker are from the metro area and both will play for national champion Maryland next spring. Each also helped the South offense as Leubecker scored three goals while Ahearn added two.
Leubecker is going to be the first homeschooled recruit to play for Maryland under coach Cathy Reese, who just finished her 13th year. Leubecker, from the Fallston area, played against high school competition for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She showed her skills in this contest, especially her speed and ability to shoot.
Leubecker made a long run and then scored with 1:50 left on a quick shot from inside of 10 yards that gave the South a 13-12 lead. But the North tied it 42 seconds later and forced overtime.
“When you play with good people, they make you look good,” Leubecker said. “You see them try something, and then you want to try something, so just playing with good people and people who are better than you just makes you better. It’s a great experience.”
For Ahearn (Glenelg Country School), her thoughts were similar to those of Leubecker and Cummings – playing with the best players from around the nation can be a whole lot of fun.
“It was amazing…having the best girls in the country come together is just an amazing experience,” Ahearn said. “It’s just a really fun thing to be a part of. They just make you better.”
This game was mostly about displaying the talents of the players and having fun. The biggest problem proved to be weather worries, which delayed the start by 21 minutes.
Still, the atmosphere was a relaxed one as music blared from the speakers throughout the contest, but the intensity certainly was there.
The boys game was similar, featuring back-and-forth offense that kept the scoreboard operators busy as the North pulled out a 24-22 victory thanks to a 16-goal second half.
There were only a few area boys playing for the South, but North goalie Logan McNaney has a local connection. He played his high school ball in Connecticut but the Maryland recruit set a game record with 16 saves in his only half (the first) and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The North team also enjoyed themselves. On a few occasions, after scoring a goal, they would all rush together on the field for a wacky celebration. Once they all fell backwards. They also pretended to be rowing a boat together, but the offense kept on rolling as the North set a record by scoring 12 goals in the third quarter to tie the game and went on to the victory.