Taylor's 10: Team Identities Coming into Focus


Taylor Cummings is praising Loyola for their solid fundamental play and Syracuse for its "scary good" roster.

Taylor Cummings is a three-time Tewaaraton Award winner, a two-time gold medalist with the U.S. women’s national team, the inaugural Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse champion and the head coach at McDonogh (Md.). “Taylor’s 10” is presented by Gait Lacrosse. Be legendary.

We’re five weeks into the 2023 season, and it’s clear that the intensity is starting to build on the field. Gone is the curious month of February when teams try to figure out their identities and mess around with lineups and schemes.

March lacrosse is here, and it’s a different beast altogether as conference play starts and games matter even more. It’s also during this time that teams become confident in their brand of lacrosse and start owning what the 2023 version of themselves looks like.

Some programs consistently find themselves with “SportsCenter” Top 10 worthy plays and are known for being flashy, while others become known for fundaments across the board. There are teams that develop the reputation of smothering defense or scary-to-scout balanced offense. Then there are others defined by intangible assets rather than on-field play — resiliency, poise and a sheer will to win.

This week of Taylor’s 10 is all about team brands and the impression some have made on me (and perhaps a few other fans) this week and this season.

Vermont: Meticulous

Vermont’s zone offense against Harvard was downright impressive. The Catamounts’ midfielders moved the ball well by limiting cradles and constantly feeding on the move while their wheel at the crease was executed with pinpoint precision. Their crease attackers would stretch the zone up field and hit a pass back to a trailing attacker who would curl and either feed cross crease or score. Their understanding of Harvard’s rotation showcased their detail-oriented nature and meticulous game planning.

Georgetown: Methodical

Having played for Georgetown head coach Ricky Fried, I know first-hand how methodical he is as a coach and how he likes his teams to be. Everything is done with purpose and intention, and the 2023 Hoyas understand that perfectly. Against Loyola, they were so methodical in their movements both defensively and offensively and worked Loyola well into the shot clock on both ends of the field. Their dedication to the plan kept the contest tight throughout. Tatum Geist impressed me with the way she was able to read Loyola’s defenders and make smart decisions based upon their slide patterns or approaches.

Michigan: Gritty

One of the aspects of lacrosse that doesn’t get enough praise is the ride. In the shot clock era, a team’s ride is more critical than ever because of the impact it can have on an opposing team’s offensive possession time. Michigan’s ride is chaotic, smothering and tough as nails. Attackers and midfielders for the Wolverines hunt in packs between the 30s until the ball safely crosses over or until they’re able to cause a key turnover. A team’s ride often is a determining factor of their grit, and boy does Michigan have that and then some.

Ohio State: Believers

There are teams that thrive off belief and positivity, and Ohio State is one of those teams. The Buckeyes walk into every game with a quiet confidence that they can compete with anyone. Their defense is communicative and relentless, their offense is calm, cool and collected even in tight moments, and they have a draw team that will go to battle against anyone. If there’s a player who wants the ball in crunch time for the Bucks, look no further than Jamie Level. She is one of the smartest players on the OSU squad and is a workhorse who always goes hard even when games are tight.

USC: Firm

USC is unafraid of its opponent, no matter who that is. USC’s woman-down defense has gotten some practice this season and was actually a highlight despite the loss to Princeton. The defensive unit communicated exceptionally well with goalie Kait Devir playing an integral role in cage and with covering low cutters. They were unwavering in their play even when down one (or two) players throughout the game and were able to cause a few turnovers while withstanding the Tiger’s pressure.

Florida: Relentless

Florida has brought in talented athletes from the moment the program started in 2013 and has always been known for being super athletic, strong and hard to outwork. This year’s Gator squad still encompasses those core characteristics but is also defined by a relentless work ethic and resolute mindset. Down to Loyola late in the second half, Florida didn’t crumble, instead outworking the Greyhounds on both ends of the field. Once they got the lead in the fourth quarter, they never gave it up, as they continued to throw on extra tallies for insurance. Gabi Hall, a shifty low lefty attacker, was a standout for me in this game with her composure under pressure and slick stick.

Syracuse: Scary Good

I’m sure there are better descriptions for Syracuse than “scary good,” but that’s all I could think as I watched the Orange dismantle Notre Dame. Their defense is finding their identity with Delaney Sweitzer in net. The center circle is coming together without Katelyn Mashewske, and the offense is about as unselfish as it gets. Emma Ward as a facilitator from X is a nightmare for opposing teams, and the ball movement their offensive unit has shown will be tough for anyone to stop should it continue to flow as effortlessly as of late.

Loyola: Solid

Loyola is known for having one of the flashier programs in all of Division I with masterminds Jen Adams, Dana Dobbie and Caroline Hager at the helm. This year more than ever, they’ve been able to combine that flash with solid fundamental play. Latch, Boyle, Black and Wilson are all such sound players for the Greyhounds on the offensive end and help each other find a balance between the flash and fundamentals. Katie Detwiler is the leader on the defensive side of the ball, but the fundamental, solid play of freshman Cydney Lisk against Florida was simply astounding. She was confident in her communication, sent slides early and often and was able to create turnovers that sparked transition. Lisk will be a huge piece of the puzzle for Loyola once Detwiler graduates.

Clemson: Poised

Clemson earned its first-ever ACC win against Duke thanks to their composure in tight moments and confidence in themselves. Made up of many grad transfers and freshmen, there’s a mixture of experience levels for this Tiger squad, but you’d never know it by looking at them. Maryland transfer Emma Tilson runs at defenders at pace and uses her body exceptionally well to penetrate defenses, while freshman Sofia Chepenik was lights out all game. Chepenik eventually scored the winner late in the fourth quarter off an absolute ripper from the outside, and it’s that poise and confidence that will be key to their success this spring.

Villanova: Unafraid

In their second-ever meeting against the Terps, Villanova stood strong for a full 60 minutes and went toe to toe with them throughout the contest. It can be intimidating to play against a storied program, but the Wildcats’ confidence was palpable and their hard work did not go unnoticed. Their shifting zone created havoc for the Maryland offense at times and was led by an outstanding performance from backup keeper Cate Gallagher. She covered her angles well, was able to make a lot of off-stick side hip saves and challenged the Terps’ shooters as she made 17 saves.

Most Recent

Suspended Seniors Return in Brown's Upset of No. 6 Villanova

Brown wasted no time showing what it’s capable of at full strength.

Adelphi Looking Dangerous in Nike/USA Lacrosse Division II Men's Top 20

There might not be a hotter team in D-II right now than Adelphi.

Movement Galore Outside Top 6 of Nike/USA Lacrosse Division III Men's Top 20

Two new teams — Amherst and Bowdoin — join the top 10 in this week's update.

West Chester Tops Nike/USA Lacrosse D-II Women's Top 20 for 4th Straight Week

West Chester solidified its standing with a 16-5 win over East Stroudsburg.

Twitter Posts