How Reigning WPLL MVP Marie McCool Balances Life and Lacrosse

PHOTO COURTESY OF WPLL


Marie McCool is moving to New York on Friday, not far from the Long Island site where the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League will host its final games of the regular season Saturday.

The move is the latest transition for McCool, the Brave midfielder who is learning to balance a full-time job with training for the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League and the U.S. national team.

“It’s really important to stay in game shape,” McCool said. “Lacrosse is the fastest game on two feet. Me being a midfielder, I have to make sure I’m spending the time outside of my life working out. And you have to spend time shooting and spend time on stickwork. And when you’re in college, that’s something you’re doing with 25 other people. Now it’s on you to stay in shape and be mentally there.”

McCool keeps herself motivated. She can work from home, but travels a good deal as an account executive in Quest Diagnostics’ sports diagnostics department.

“My schedule is always changing,” McCool said. “It’s something I love doing. It’s better to be busy than bored. I don’t want to sit around. That’s why my transition hasn’t been too challenging. I love working out.”

While living in her hometown of Moorestown, N.J., McCool had some advantages. She could use the facilities at Moorestown High School, where she made a name for herself at the perennial state power before going to the University of North Carolina, and she was helping to coach the South Jersey Select club team.

“I like to run sprints on the turf,” McCool said. “That keeps me in game shape. After I run my sprints, I do some shooting. I’ll ask my friend, Kierstyn [Voiro] — she played at Lehigh — if she’ll come play defense on me. She’ll say, ‘I can try.’ I also help in practice and I hop in those practices, but I’m not always going all out. I also have a trainer that I work out with. We do drills that incorporate my stick so I do a little of everything.”

McCool admits that the college schedule made it easier to stay on top of her game. She had a regimen and teammates that were all on a set schedule to stay in game shape. Now, it’s on her.

“It’s definitely challenging,” she said. “You have to have a different mindset and a work ethic to wake up early to make sure you work out before you go to work. Or if you didn’t have time, even if it’s late at night, to go work out. It’s definitely challenging.”

McCool keeps herself busy at every turn. The only thing missing from her life, she said, is soccer. She played for four years in high school.

“Maybe in the future,” McCool said. “There’s so many leagues up here. I miss it so much. I love soccer.”







McCool had the benefit last year of coming right off her final college season when she became the Tar Heels’ first two-time Tewaaraton Award finalist. She burst into the professional ranks, being named the WPLL’s inaugural MVP.

“I was very shocked and surprised but at the same time so honored,” McCool said. “It’s something I would never have achieved without my teammates. We’re all genuinely happy for each other’s success, and we play for each other. It’s not something that could be achieved without them. To be named the first MVP of the WPLL was an honor. I’m playing alongside and against the best players in the world. I didn’t think five years ago I’d have a chance to play in a professional league, so just to have the opportunity to play was big. I look at it as a team award.”

McCool would have been happy to trade the MVP for the team championship. The Brave went unbeaten in the regular season, but fell to the Command in the title game last year. In a rematch Friday at Loyola University, it was the Brave who came out on top of the Command, 13-9, with McCool garnering Player of the Week honors with four goals, one assist and six draw controls.

“It was a regular season game,” McCool said. “I don’t like to use the word revenge, but it was a motivation factor that this was the team that took the trophy away from us. It was a regular season game and another chance to get better and put another tally in the win column. We’ll take that confidence and move forward and hopefully get another win down the road and a chance to compete in the championship again.”

Cortney Fortunato had a hat trick, Dana Dobbie had two goals, Dempsey Arsenault had a goal and four assists and seven draw controls, and Amanda Johansen had a goal and three draw controls, as the Brave improved to 2-1 and set up a showdown for second place with the Pride, who improved to 2-1 with a 16-12 win over the 0-3 Fire. The Brave and Pride play at 1 p.m. and the Fight and Fire play at 3 p.m. Saturday at James M. Shuart Stadium on Hofstra University’s campus.

“It’s such a short season, so every game matters,” McCool said. “Obviously, we want to come out on top this weekend. This past weekend gives us a lot more confidence, because we know what we’re capable of. The Pride is a great team. I’ve watched them play multiple times. They work well together. We have to bring our A game and make sure we get better every minute and every day.”

The Brave made the most of a second chance Friday. Their win came after the originally scheduled doubleheader was wiped out by storms July 6 in West Chester, Pa. The Brave played much better in the rescheduled game. They trailed the Command 7-3 when the game was called July 6.

“The difference between last week and Friday was we were focusing on the fundamentals and details,” McCool said. “The last game, we were working hard, but the details weren’t there. You could see it, because we were dropping easy feeds. Things weren’t going our way the first time around. This time, we worked as a team and we understood everyone’s strengths and their weaknesses too. We were moving better individually and collectively. And we did a good job on the draw. One quarter, I think we won every single draw. Collectively, from the goalie to the attackers, we all did our role, and that played a huge part in the win on Friday.”

The Brave have won back-to-back games since opening the season with a 15-12 loss to the 3-0 Fight. In their wins, they have averaged 16 goals per game while allowing just nine goals per game.

“We had a slow start to this season with our first game against the Fight,” McCool said. “We were just figuring each other out. This team is different than last year. We were undefeated last year and lost in the championship. We have that in the back of our minds, and we’re thinking about it all the time. We have some new team members for us, and they’ve been incredible. Dempsey Arsenault has been great. I told her I’m so glad I don’t have to guard her anymore. We covered each other for three years in college.”

McCool likes the collection of players that the Brave has this season. It’s not the sort of roster that has eye-popping talent, but it’s working well down the stretch of the season. Their chemistry has been building as they target the semifinals that will be held July 26 at Yale. The championship is July 28 at US Lacrosse in Sparks, Md.

“What’s special about our team is no one has egos,” McCool said. “We’re all happy to be there. We all want each other to be successful. We’re genuinely happy when someone does something great. We have each other’s backs too. We do everything for each other.”

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