TOWSON, Md. — Four years ago, Jenny Levy nearly lost in her debut as head coach of the U.S. women’s national team.
The U.S. trailed then-defending NCAA champion James Madison 9-8 in the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic on Oct. 6, 2018.
That’s when Taylor Cummings took over, scoring four goals and securing 12 draw controls to lead the Americans to a 14-10 victory. Levy thanked Cummings afterward.
Cummings had that look in her eye again Monday.
Facing its stiffest test since opening night against Canada, the U.S. defeated England 15-9 at Unitas Stadium to complete pool play undefeated and clinch the No. 1 seed in the championship bracket of the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship.
Cummings scored three goals — two in high-leverage situations — and anchored a U.S. draw unit that dominated in the second half to earn Player of the Match honors.
“TC, her superpower is her competitive fire and her ability to be super confident when the moments are the hardest,” Levy said. “She’s a competitor. The very first time I coached this team against JMU I learned that about her. And that has never gone away.”
The U.S., which has won 26 straight games in world championship play dating back to the 2009, will play Hong Kong, China in the first round of playoffs Tuesday.
An ironic encounter with mother country on the Fourth of July lived up to the billing, as England erased an early four goal deficit to make it a 7-6 game late in the second quarter.
But Cummings found a seam in England’s defense, caught a feed from Kylie Ohlmiller on the wing and shoveled it into the goal to put the U.S. back up by two going into halftime.
The momentum carried into the third quarter, as Cummings hit a bounce shot with perfect placement on a free position to give the U.S. an 11-7 lead and chase England goalie Brittany Read.
“That’s why we play. We love to be able to compete in these moments,” said Cummings, a former three-time Tewaaraton Award winner at Maryland and one of six players on the current U.S. team who won a gold medal in 2017. “It just so happened in a couple of them it was in my stick.”
After a first half in which the teams were tied with eight draws apiece, the U.S. leaned exclusively on Cummings (six draw controls) and Kayla Treanor (three goals, four draw controls) in the second half. They combined to give the U.S. a 10-2 advantage on draw controls in the final 30 minutes.
“Older guys will battle a little different,” said Levy, who cited inconsistency in how different officials set up and adjudicated the draw. “That’s why you have your veterans on the team, to anchor situations to pull you through and settle things down.”
Cummings and Treanor were only a year out of college when they first played for the U.S. on the international stage in 2017. Now they’re veterans, even though at age 28 both are very much in their prime as players.
“My moment weirdly came when we were doing longest shot a couple years ago, and we went youngest to oldest,” Cummings said. “I was much nearer to the back than when I started.”
The young bucks were pretty special Monday too.
Charlotte North wowed again with five goals, including three in the fourth quarter. One came off a box fake that froze England’s defense and another a sidearm howitzer off a hitch fake from 10 meters out.
Emma Trenchard, meanwhile, blanketed England’s top scorer, Meghan Whittle, who managed just two free-position goals.
“Every little kid watching her play defense should be inspired by what her feet look like, her body positioning. She’s not fouling. She’s just moving her feet and getting to spaces before her opponent,” Levy said. “She can do that to any player in the world.”