By Jay Cook |
FAIR HAVEN – After playing in championship games throughout high school and collegiate career, Fair Haven’s most accomplished lacrosse player is taking her talents to the international stage with her sights set on gold.
That player would be Megan Douty, a 2011 Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduate and one of 18 lacrosse players on the Team USA Women’s Lacrosse team.
With three years of experience on the team, she is in the final weeks of preparation before Team USA travels across the pond to Surrey Sports Park in England for the 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Rathbone’s Women’s Lacrosse World Cup from July 12 to 22.
“I think it’s exhilarating,” Douty said about the upcoming tournament. “A ton of adrenaline is rushing through your body because you’re getting ready to play the game, but at the same time, you’re thinking about how this is for our country. It’s more than just me and the person next to me, it’s for everyone.”
With every squad she’s played on, from her time at RFH to her career as a University of Maryland Terrapin, Douty has been an integral piece in those team’s successes. The world-class defender brings a lethal balance of speed and strength to the field, equally frustrating for both attackers and coaching staffs.
“I like to be right up on them and drive them outside away from the cage so if they try to score, my goalies have the best opportunity to make a save based on the angling,” she said about her style of play.
As a Bulldog, Douty played in and started every game throughout her four-year high school career. She notched over 100 goals and over 200 takeaways, displaying her playmaking prowess on both ends of the field.
After moving on up to Maryland, she became one of the top defensive players in the country. She was an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Defender of the Year in 2014 and was the 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Douty also anchored Maryland’s defense for back-to-back NCAA championships in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s incredible,” she said of her career. “I never thought I would get this far.”
When Douty and Team USA head to England, they will enter the tournament as the clear team to beat. During the 2013 World Cup in Ontario, the United States went 7-0 and won by at least a nine-goal margin in every game. They topped the home-town Canadian squad 19-5 in the title game.
According to US Lacrosse, the United States women’s team has won seven of the last nine World Cup tournaments since 1982. In the two year’s they lost – 1986 and 2005 – the Americans still played in the championship games yet fell short.
Although that last win was four years ago, Douty said the team can take their immense experience in World Cup play and apply that to this year’s go-around.
“If we execute everything that we’ve practiced and what the coaches have been guiding us to do, I think we’ll do a very good job,” she said. “I think we’ll have a really good chance of competing in the gold medal game.”
Surrey Sports Park is also a familiar complex for Team USA. Last summer, Douty said her and her teammates flew out there to play an exhibition game. It ultimately helped familiarize the team with their surroundings for July.
“We know where we’re living, how hard the field is,” Douty said. “Just having all of that and being able to picture exactly what is going to happen adds a comfort level.”
Since Team USA doesn’t meet as regularly as other men’s or women’s national teams, much of the offseason training is done on the athlete’s own time. For Douty, all of that work happens with her best friend and training partner Alex Marino.
At Marino’s gym in Howell, the duo has been hard at work preparing Douty for the 2017 World Cup with healthy eating habits, daily training regimen and extensive conditioning work. The pair has also taken their lacrosse talents to the business end as well, where they are helping pre-high school girls train for the grind of a high school season.
In late June, All Lax held its first ever camp session at Meadow Ridge Park in Rumson, just around the corner from where Douty fell in love with the game of lacrosse. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Douty, who can get her last bit of training in while furthering the game on her home turf. “To see these girls starting as young as in kindergarten in this town is incredible,” she said of Fair Haven. “I love that I’m back and helping these girls where exactly I learned how to play the game. It’s a nice little send off before I head out.”
This article was first published in the July 6-13, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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