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McCool (Moorestown) follows up brilliant career at UNC by helping Baltimore reach WPLL final

Friday, 13th July 2018

Categories Girl's/Women's, Pro  
 

By Anthony Caruso III
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/13/18

Just four years ago, Marie McCool was leading Moorestown to a New Jersey Tournament of Champions title, a 26-0 record and a National ranking among the top two teams in the country.

Marie McCool (Courtesy of UNC Athletics)

Since then she was named a collegiate First Team All-American three straight times, and a Tewaaraton Award finalist twice while leading North Carolina to a National championship (2016).

Today McCool will help lead the Baltimore Brave in the inaugural Women’s Professional Lacrosse League championship Saturday at the US Lacrosse Headquarters Tierney Field at 5 p.m. vs. the New England Command.

McCool had three goals Thursday when the undefeated Brave toppled the New York Fight, 14-10, at West Chester University’s Farrell Stadium.

“The coaches believe in me a lot with my abilities in order to take it to the next level at an already high level than what I had been playing at (the college level),” said McCool, who was the league’s No. 2 pick. “The fact that they trust me to take me that high is an honor.

“Also, it’s also an honor to be one of the first to be playing in this league. We’re a pioneer for that league. We want to drive this league to be bigger and better. I think it’s had a great start, but hopefully, the league has a bright future. To be a part of this is awesome.”

McCool said playing professional lacrosse has been a challenge and a joy.

“It’s been a lot of fun (playing for the Brave),” she said. “I knew a few girls on the team, as I previously played with them on Team USA, including Dana Dobbie, who recruited me. The most of the other girls, I have played against.

“To be on the same team with these women is a lot of fun. I think it’s a really great opportunity to play at the next level, because just a couple of years ago, we didn’t have that opportunity. To have the opportunity to play the sport we love with new people allows us to build new relationships and friendships. It’s been an amazing experience.”

The new league has also partnered with Major League Lacrosse teams to host events with the MLL teams hosting. It began on June 2nd when the Chesapeake Bayhawks hosted the Brave and the Philadelphia Fire. The MLL All-Star Game also hosted the New England Command and the Philadelphia Fire on June 28th.

Two days later, the New York Lizards hosted the New York Fight and the Upstate Pride.

“With how fast the sport is growing, with players like us, it takes all of us to help us grow this beautiful game,” McCool said. “We want this league to get to a bigger stage. That’s what we’re hoping for, and if we have to use the MLL to help us, then that’s what we’ll have to do.”

McCool is hoping that moving the games around help spark interest from younger players. The WPLL Futures tournament was also held at Farrell Stadium, allowing Philly girls to see the pro players up close.

“I think playing at tournaments gives these girls an opportunity to watch us play,” McCool said. “I think it’s awesome. They get to play a game, then next thing you know, the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League is playing on the same fields next to you and you get to watch them.

“You get to watch some of the best women’s lacrosse players in the world play. I think it’s awesome that they have the opportunity to watch us. I think that’ll also help the league to grow with so many fans having the opportunity to watch it.”

Moorestown High School’s girls’ lacrosse team is one of the most prominent teams in the country in the sport. McCool was one of its best players ever.

“I was lucky enough to grow up in Moorestown and be able to play for the Knoblochs at Moorestown High School,” said McCool of head coach Deanna Knobloch and assistant K.C., her husband. “I think it definitely prepared me for my future and ultimately that’s what shaped me as the player I am today.

“That’s where I developed my skills and lacrosse IQ. To be able to play at such a high level at high school was super important. I’m very lucky I’ve had that opportunity. The Knoblochs are amazing coaches and I’ve learned so much from them from being a part of the Moorestown lacrosse program.”

Since Knobloch has been named the Moorestown head coach, she has amassed more than 500 wins. During her tenure with the Quakers, McCool won three State Championships and was named the Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year in 2014.

McCool led the State of New Jersey in 2013 and 2014 with 86 and 81 goals respectively. She finished her Quakers career with 268 goals and 94 assists.

McCool committed to attend North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a sophomore. She admitted it was always a dream of hers to attend the institution.

“I wanted to go to North Carolina, because when I was younger, I idolized Mia Hamm, so obviously, she’s one of the most successful soccer players in the history of America sports,” she said. “I idolized her because I was a soccer player when I was younger. That’s where it started with North Carolina, as my dream school.

“Also, Michael Jordan went there, as well as other big names. I always wanted to go there. Once I stepped foot on campus, and saw how beautiful the campus was — and understand it’s one of the best academic schools in the country – it was the full package for me. That’s what ultimately made me go there.”

As a sophomore, McCool helped guide the Tar Heels to the National Championship over the Maryland Terrapins at Philly’s PPL Park (now Talen Energy Stadium) in 2016. She had a goal and two assists in the championship game after losing to the Terps one year prior.

“It was an amazing feeling to do it in Philadelphia, as it was so close to home,” she said. “Being able to continue to play at the highest level was an awesome experience for me. Then to win the National Championship as an underdog to defeat the No. 1 seed – and to be able to do that close to home – was a lot of fun. It was a once in a lifetime experience for me.”

In her final two seasons as a Tar Heel, she was named a Tewaaraton Award Finalist. She is the first North Carolina woman to be a two-time finalist.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized as one of the Top 5 players in women’s lacrosse,” she said. “I love the event that the Tewaaraton Foundation puts on. It was a lot of fun. To be able to join the list of so many great players, who came before me, as a Tewaaraton Finalist, is very humbling.

“At the same time, I wouldn’t have been there without my teammates. I credit them with all of my success because, without them, I wouldn’t be the player I am.”

McCool graduated from North Carolina this year. She is one of three North Carolina players, along with Jenn Cook (Marple Newtown grad) and Sloane Serpe, to become a three-time, first-team All-American. She was also the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Midfielder of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

As a senior, McCool was named the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Division I Midfielder of the Year and was named First Team All-American for the third time. She is the only UNC player to be a two-time finalist for the Tewaaraton and was named a finalist for the Honda Award for Lacrosse earlier this month for the second year in a row.

She leaves the college as the most decorated player in UNC women’s lacrosse history, according to the school.

“It’s definitely exciting and something I’ve worked for since I first picked up a lacrosse stick,” McCool said. “That’s something that I never thought I would achieve when I was younger.

“To be able to achieve that is an amazing feeling. I wouldn’t have achieved that without my teammates and my coaches. I had such amazing players around me every day – and those are the ones that pushed me to be successful and the best player that I can be.”

McCool has also competed for Team USA. She was one of then-two college players on the 2017 US Lacrosse World Cup team that captured gold in England in July 2017..

“It’s awesome, as putting on the red, white, and blue is the best feeling ever,” she said. “You’re not only representing yourself and your team, but you’re representing your entire country.

“There are young girls, who aspire to be like us one day, and the future generations of the sport. That’s super important to me and I know it’s super important to all of my teammates, as well. It’s a great honor not only to aspire these young girls, but to play for our country.”

Outside of being a professional women’s lacrosse player, McCool has been doing some coaching on the side. This is a field that she could go into as she looks to find a full-time job.

“Right now, I’m just doing a lot of coaching and playing,” she said. “I’m obviously hopeful that I can find a full-time job. I also want to relax a bit before I decide what I want to do next. Once I start working, I’m going to be that the rest of my life.

“No matter what, even though I don’t know what I’m going to do right now, I want to say involved in the sport of lacrosse. It’s the sport that I love and I want to help the girls get better and better. I also want to grow this game, which is a big goal of mine. I want to help this game get to levels that it has never reached before.”

If she does go into coaching, she’ll be another player with Moorestown ties in the coaching ranks. There are presently four women’s lacrosse college assistant coaches, along with two head coaches, who graduated from the school.

Kateri Linville is the head coach of the Delaware Blue Hens. Cathy Swezey is the head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores. Taylor Chumney is an assistant coach at North Carolina. Rachel Emerson is an assistant at Rowan University. Chelsea Gamble is an assistant coach at Stanford University. Jenna Slowey is an assistant coach at the University of Richmond.

“I could go into the corporate setting (majored in management and society),” said McCool. “However, like I said, I’m really enjoying coaching right now. It’s making me think about what I definitely want to do. I’m keeping my options open and doing the right thing for me until I actually make a decision. I have definitely thought about coaching at the college level. There have been opportunities there. We’ll see what happens.”

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