Taylor's Takes: The Urgency and Excitement to Compete


On a team in which the offense gets a lot of the attention and praise, Rachel Hall is the quiet backbone of BC’s very gritty defense

Taylor Cummings is a three-time Tewaaraton winner, a member of Team USA and the head coach at McDonogh (Md.) . "Taylor's Takes" is presented by Gait Lacrosse. Be legendary.

The farther we get into the regular season, the more confident I am in my preseason thought that the conference tournaments in late April and early May are going to be some of the best we have ever seen.

Take the gauntlet that is the ACC. North Carolina barely scraped by Notre Dame last week but handily beat Boston College a few games earlier. One would assume that Notre Dame would’ve then done the same to BC in this week’s matchup, especially given that tight game against the Heels — and it was just the opposite. Boston College had its foot on the gas pedal from the opening whistle of the first game and dominated the Irish in every facet en route to two top-five victories.

The same thing is happening in the Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, Patriot League and every other conference around the country. No game is a guaranteed win; no game is even guaranteed at all! Every single opportunity to play is met with an urgency and excitement to compete, and on any given day, either team can be victorious. 

Winning a conference tournament is not only a guaranteed ticket into the NCAA tournament but a matter of pride for all programs. These games will feature a competition level we have not yet seen and more upsets than ever before. If you are a lacrosse fan, you are in for an entertaining few weeks of conference play as we dive into some of the best tournaments ever!

Taylor’s Top Players

Olivia Dirks, Penn State

Olivia Dirks is a woman on a mission this season. She goes hard all over the field and is a key contributor in every area for the Nittany Lions as they look to make another deep run in NCAAs.

In a heartbreaking loss on Thursday, Dirks had five goals, four assists, two ground balls, one caused turnover and 10 draw controls. To put it simply, she was unstoppable. I love watching her play because she is a true competitor and never takes a play off.

Rachel Hall, Boston College

On a team in which the offense gets a lot of the attention and praise, Hall is the quiet backbone of BC’s very gritty defense and is a key reason why they’ve been so successful this year.

In a top-10 ACC battle under the lights, Hall had 11 saves and frustrated the Irish shooters at every turn. She held her pipes well, was quick to drop to the ground or explode up for a high shot and produced instant offense for the Eagles thanks to her spot-on clears. Hall has impressed me all year long and showed she’s one of the best in the ACC (and the entire country) on Thursday.

Kelsey Huff, USC

Kelsey Huff is a strong midfielder for the Trojans who has a nose for the goal. In an overtime victory against Cal on Friday night, Huff put away four goals, including the overtime winner. She used her quick feet, fast shot release and field vision to continuously dissect Cal’s zone defense and create openings for herself and her teammates.

USC will need Huff to continue to step up in big moments as it looks to the Pac-12 tournament later this season.

Natalia Lynch, Georgetown

Lynch is a key midfielder for the Hoyas and has been an integral part of their success thus far. She can play solid defense, has a huge role in the center of the field with draws and has an ability to score in a multitude of ways on the offensive end.

In Georgetown’s victory over Butler this weekend, Lynch tallied three goals in three different ways — cutting, dodging and nailing a free position. She also had one ground ball and seven draw controls in the Hoyas’ win.

Sydney Black, Loyola

Sydney Black is a name we will be hearing a lot more of over the next four years. She had a great game against Bucknell this week and will have many more in the games to come.

The freshman for Loyola has fit seamlessly into her midfield role this season and provides another level of grit and superb lacrosse IQ to both sides of the ball. After commentating a few Loyola games this year, it is clear to me that Black has a great understanding of the game and will only continue to get better and better as her time at Loyola goes on. She’s smart, fast, strong, has great stick work, moves well on and off ball and to put it simply, she just gets it.

Taylor’s Top 10 Teams

1. North Carolina (14-0)
2. Northwestern (11-0)
3. Syracuse (11-1)
4. Boston College (11-1)
5. Stony Brook (9-2)
6. Duke (9-5)
7. Virginia (8-6)
8. Notre Dame (6-5)
9. Florida (11-2)
10. Loyola (8-2)

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