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Penn State's Lauren Saltz.

Taylor's Takes: The Hottest Teams and Players

Presented by:
Gait Lacrosse
April 18, 2024
Taylor Cummings
John Strohsacker

Being back into the broadcast booth this March and April has been such a treat for me. I obviously love watching and playing the game, but to be able to share insights with fans and to play the smallest of roles in increasing the visibility of our sport is incredibly humbling and exciting.

Add in the fact that I get to talk about some of the top teams and players in the country and witness their excellence in person, and I’m the happiest of campers.

I’m so proud to be able to say that our game is reaching new heights and getting in front of viewers new and old from the comfort of their homes. Having networks like Big Ten, ESPN, CBS Sports and the ACC Network committed to showcasing our game on live television is huge for the sport and gives players and fans opportunities like never before.

On Sunday, I was able to flip between the Boston College-Virginia game on ACC Network and the Army-Navy game on CBS Sports with the same ease I do with college basketball — and what a simple pleasure that was.

I just hope we continue in this trajectory and eventually get to see the same national growth and excitement around the sport like we all experienced with women’s college basketball this spring. The nation’s top teams and players were highlighted on networks big and small all March, and I’m hopeful that, one day, women’s lacrosse will be discussed the same way.

In the meantime, though, I’ll take another opportunity to do just that with this week’s column as I dive into some of the nation’s hottest teams and players.



Virginia is coming off an overtime victory against ACC foe Boston College and is continuing to climb in the polls as a result. Their grit and unwavering buy-in this season has been nothing short of impressive. Other than a surprising loss to Duke, Virginia has played consistently well all season long, and Sonia LaMonica has put her own unique stamp on this storied program.

UVA’s most impressive player on Saturday was freshman Katie Galica. Her three goals and three draw controls came in pivotal moments, and her confidence to go against one of the nation’s best defenses was exciting to watch. She will have an awesome career at UVA if she continues to play like she did in her last game.


With only one loss, the Yale Bulldogs have built quite the resume for the NCAA tournament. They’ve been able to dominate the Ivy League with huge victories over Penn, Princeton, Brown and Harvard — all teams currently ranked in the Top 25 polls. I watched their game against Penn and was impressed by their draw dominance, heads up ball movement and suffocating defensive presence.

Jenna Collignon is a threat everywhere on the offensive end and is the player the Bulldogs look to in critical moments. Her ability to stay engaged and make an impact while being faceguarded is something that is difficult to do, but she does so consistently.

Penn State

With two top-five wins, the Nittany Lions have proven they can beat any team in the country. They’ve been able to secure victories over Big Ten foes Northwestern and Maryland (both of whom have been ranked No. 1 at one point this season) with a resilient mindset, fundamentally sound play on both sides of the ball and pure heart in the draw circle. Nothing about Penn State’s play is particularly flashy, but they can get it done against the best of the best.

I was on call for the Maryland-Penn State game and thought the most impactful player was Lauren Saltz. She did the small things incredibly well while also making big plays in big moments, including putting away two goals of her own.


Penn has had another outstanding season and is continuing to dominate in national and Ivy League play like they have for the last few years. Their only losses on the year have been to two incredibly talented teams in Michigan and Yale, and even during those, they still looked very good. The fundamentally sound lacrosse that has become a staple of the Penn program is now paired with athleticism and high lacrosse IQ, creating a deadly combination for all future opponents.

Anna Brandt has impressed me the past few seasons and is continuing to do that this spring. Her ability to beat matchups off both the dodge and the catch from anywhere on the attacking end has proven useful for the Quakers.


In my opinion, Florida is this year’s sleeper team. No one is really talking about them, yet they’re continuing to quietly rack up wins — including their most recent game, a large margin of victory over James Madison. After starting the season 0-2, the Gators have won every game since and have been showcasing their athleticism every chance they get. When I think of Florida lacrosse, my mind immediately jumps to pure athleticism and speed, and the 2024 Gators have that in spades.

Maggi Hall has been lights out this season and adds a lefty attacking threat to an already dangerous offensive unit full of talent. Hall leads the Gators in points and loves to have the ball in big moments, a trait that really can’t be taught.