From the Magazine: Maggie McCormick
Maggie McCormick tallied an assist last week in a 14-7 loss to No. 2 Maryland, and there probably wasn’t a Penn State player more disappointed in the outcome. It was a stiff early test for a Nittany Lion lacrosse team with national championship aspirations; for McCormick, it was also a reminder of what could have been.
Just don’t think she has any regrets.
A junior attack and returning All-American, McCormick is a Maryland native who ultimately chose Penn State over the in-state powerhouse Terps, winners of 10 national championships in women’s lax. As you might guess, her college choice wasn’t an easy one. “You grow up in Maryland as a lacrosse player, watching them, and they’ve been elite for so many years, it would’ve been the easy choice,” McCormick told us in the preseason. “The decision was, I can go to Maryland, or I can take a risk, go to what in my opinion is a much better school, and try to make a difference in the program. It’s definitely worked out.”
McCormick is the student-athlete profile in our March/April issue, which Alumni Association members should start getting this week. As a sophomore last season, she totaled a team-high 87 points (50 goals, 37 assists), the most by a Nittany Lion in 25 years. Thanks to that offensive output, McCormick earned second-team All-America honors and led Penn State to the NCAA quarterfinals. With most of the team back this spring, hopes are high for an even deeper NCAA tournament run.
In choosing Penn State, McCormick wasn’t taking that much of a leap—the Lions are traditionally one of the sport’s elite programs, with a pair of NCAA titles and three USWLA championships from the pre-NCAA era. But the most recent of those came in 1989, while the likes of Maryland, Northwestern, Princeton, and Virginia have dominated the college game since. McCormick came to Happy Valley to help Penn State reclaim its place among the national elite. She didn’t have to wait long for her chance.
As a freshman in 2012, McCormick found herself playing a huge role for second-year coach Missy Doherty, starting every game and posting a team-high 59 points. “It’s not something I expected,” McCormick says of her trial by fire. “Playing as a freshman, you realize you have a lot to learn, but Coach took a chance on me when I’m not sure many coaches would have. She put me in a position to make an immediate impact.”
That risk was rewarded, and with five goals and three assists in her first three games this season, McCormick continues to make her coach look prescient. Her own potential already realized, McCormick now is focused on making sure her team reaches its ceiling. “The Final Four—that’s the next progression for this team,” she says. “We need to make it to championship weekend, and I think we’ve all bought into that idea.”
Fresh off an 11-7 victory Tuesday over Duquesne—click here to watch the highlights, including McCormick’s three goals—the No. 8 Nittany Lions take their next step in the road to the Final Four this Saturday with a tough road game at UVA.
Ryan Jones, senior editor