Friends, foes alike

3 Terps will compete against one another at World Cup

Lacrosse Maryland Women

March 03, 2009|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

Playing together in Maryland's midfield, Caitlyn McFadden, Laura Merrifield and Sarah Mollison have developed an easy rapport on the lacrosse field. They know one another's games so well, they connect on the most intricate attack plays.

That will only help them this summer when they play at the Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic. Come June, however, that knowledge will be turned into opposition strategy.

The three Terrapins will play for different nations: McFadden for the United States, Merrifield for England and Mollison for defending champion Australia.

Maryland has turned out dozens of World Cup players over the years - former Terps are playing for five countries this summer - but this is the first time three current Terps have played for three countries.

That will take some getting used to.

"It's bizarre," Merrifield said. "You always have to think twice about if you've got them coming toward you, not to pass to them rather than to your team."

They all have a good chance to come home with medals. No other team has medaled in the past five World Cups.

There's plenty of banter over who will win, but for now, Mollison has the upper hand in that argument. She already has a gold medal from the 2005 World Cup, when she was among the youngest players on the Australia team that ended the U.S. run of four titles.

For this trio, however, there's no bitter international rivalry.

"On the field, you've just got to see them as another player on that other team," said McFadden, who was an All-Metro player at Notre Dame Prep, "but at the end of the day, we're all still teammates."

They don't expect to pass to one another by mistake. That didn't happen when Maryland scrimmaged England and the U.S. in preseason. There was just a little laughing and teasing.

That was obvious when they were asked whether they preferred to play with or against one another.

"Definitely with them," Mollison, 22, said. "We train together every day, and it's more fun playing with them and going into battle together rather than battling against each other."

McFadden, 20, agreed: "They're so good, I'd rather have them on my team. I have enough trouble stopping those two in practice."

Merrifield, 20, who was asked the same question when she joined the others a few minutes later, said, "I obviously enjoy playing with them, but good competitive nature when playing against them."

Mollison, laughing but looking offended, jumped on that comment: "We said 'with,' Laura. You don't want to play with us?"

That made them all laugh.

On the field, however, they are serious competitors. McFadden, a junior, was an All-American last season. Merrifield and Mollison are sophomores after joining the Terps in January 2008 from Hertfordshire, England, and Melbourne, Australia, respectively.

Each is multitalented and ranks among the top five scorers for the No. 3 Terps (3-0), and each played a key role in Saturday's 15-13 upset of then-No. 3 Duke. Merrifield had five goals.

Terps coach Cathy Reese is not surprised all three are World Cup-bound.

"They're all really special people," Reese said. "Obviously, each one brings something different to the team, but No. 1, they all love lacrosse; No. 2, they're all competitors; and No. 3, they all work really, really hard. They're leaders on our team, and they lead by example."

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