North Carolina rising senior Marie McCool may be the youngest player on Team USA, but coach Ricky Fried credits the Americans' ability to "gel as a team."

Young Team USA Continues to Impress in Israel Win

Invaluable NCAA experience is deeply embedded within the U.S. women’s national team as each member of the 18-player roster hails from a top Division I program, including six from the University of Maryland.

Among standout tandems within the team are assistant Amy Bokker and defender Kristen Carr, who are the head coach and assistant coach, respectively, at Stanford, attacker Michelle Tumolo and defender Becca Block, who are both assistants at Oregon, and goalies Devon Wills and Gussie Johns, who are teammates now, but back at USC, Wills is the associate head coach while Johns is entering her senior season this fall.

But only two current members of Team USA are active NCAA student-athletes – Johns and Marie McCool (North Carolina), both of whom will graduate in 2018. They may be the youngest on the team, but have meshed seamlessly with the veterans on the squad.

“Kelly [Rabil (James Madison 2007)] and I joke around with each other about it all the time, but I don’t feel like the youngest because everyone has been so welcoming my past two years on the team,” said McCool, who was named Player of the Match in Team USA’s 20-3 quarterfinal win over Israel in the FIL Rathbones Women’s World Cup. “It’s been an awesome experience being able to play with girls I looked up to, but everyone makes it feel so normal.”

"This is the ultimate dream now – to win a gold medal at the World Cup. ... we’re going to do it one step at a time and as a team, no matter the outcome.” - Taylor Cummings

McCool is more than 10 years younger than Rabil, but is one of 11 first-time participants at the World Cup, alongside Alex Aust (Maryland 2013), Block (Syracuse 2013), Taylor Cummings (Maryland 2016), Megan Douty (Maryland 2015), Brooke Griffin (Maryland 2015), Johns, Alice Mercer (Maryland 2016), Kayla Treanor (Syracuse 2016), Tumolo (Syracuse 2013) and Laura Zimmerman (North Carolina 2012). The U.S. newcomers accounted for 16 of Team USA’s 20 goals against the Israelis.

The remaining seven Americans on the roster won gold at the 2013 World Cup, and two of them, captains Wills (Dartmouth 2006) and Sarah Bullard (Duke 2011) were also victorious in 2009.

Team USA may be young, but uses its experience to its advantage, especially against Israel, which boasts several former college athletes of its own, including Ali Curwin (James Madison 2015), Kim Dubansky (Johns Hopkins 2010), Emma Lazaroff (Duke 2016), Rachel Ozer (Stanford 2014) and Jessi Steinberg (Cornell 2012). According to Fried, Israel was “the most college-like team, or most Americanized team” the U.S. has played.

“I think it definitely helps that we’re from America,” said Cummings, a former All-American midfielder. “We are used to the college game and have a lot of young players who recently played with and against these players that were on the Israeli team. They played a very comfortable style on offense and defense that we’re used to playing. We just did our thing out there.”

Watching the game from the stands, fans were quick to notice the level of talent on Team USA.

“Every top player from every top college, including every Tewaaraton winner, is on this team,” one fan commented during the first half. “Nobody has a chance against this team.”

Cummings, who is a three-time Tewaaraton winner, plays alongside Katie Schwarzmann, a two-time recipient also out of Maryland who graduated in 2013. Together, they’ve claimed five of the last six awards since 2012, but to Cummings, it’s never been about the individual honors. It's the team that makes the individual shine. 

“Yeah, we have a lot of big names, but with that, everyone knows their role,” Cummings said. “That’s a credit to the coaches in the system they put in place that you have a group of all stars, as the media calls us, that can work together, play together and have a lot of fun out there. I know what we want to do – I want to put on a show and show them what American lacrosse is all about.”

The last time Cummings had a chance to achieve a lofty team goal was in 2016, when Maryland ended the season on a disappointing note with a 13-7 loss to North Carolina in the NCAA championship. This summer is her next opportunity to reach a pedestal in women’s lacrosse – this time on the world stage.

“The gold medal is the dream,” Cummings said. “I was lucky enough to participate in the national championship and it didn’t go my way, but that’s still an accomplishment in itself. But this is the ultimate dream now – to win a gold medal at the World Cup. We all come from college backgrounds where we’ve won some and we’ve lost some, but that doesn’t really matter here. This is the focus and we’re going to do it one step at a time and as a team, no matter the outcome.”


Maryland's three-time Tewaaraton winner Taylor Cummings finished her college career with a disappointing loss in the NCAA championship, but now has the chance to reach the top of the pedestal at the international level.

As for the youngest members of the team, Fried said they haven’t “lost a beat at all.”

“They’re young, they’re fun, they’re energetic and they’re badass,” Cummings said. “They’re so good, so to have them here and gaining experience that they can bring back to their colleges, they’re only going to make their teams even better.”

McCool has learned the value of building strong relationships within a team and hopes to foster that same environment at North Carolina this fall when she returns home. Johns, who served as captain for the Trojans this past season, has been thankful to share the goal with her mentor, coach and friend in Wills and aims to take back to USC the confidence she has gained as well as the leadership skills.

“The level that’s being played here is unbelievable and the team connection that this group has is special to be a part of,” Johns said. “The love of lacrosse is something I’ll try to take back to my college. Having fun should and is at the core of this team, and if you can keep that going, special things can happen.”

On Thursday, Team USA will square off with England, which features Maryland rising senior Megan Whittle and recent Princeton graduate Olivia Hompe. The Americans hope to continue rising the bar with their talent and teamwork.

“We know them. They know us,” Fried said. “[We have] a pretty young group, so the emotions of the moment can get to us, … but I think our response to those moments has been spectacular and I think the veterans have done a great job of making sure that response is what it is.”