July 16, 2018
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  • Severna Park natives (l-r) Lauren Duvall, Maddie McDaniel and Ellie Harmeyer are all players for the James Madison women's lacrosse team, which won the NCAA Division-I national championship over Memorial Day weekend.
    Photo courtesy of Maddie McDaniel
    Severna Park natives (l-r) Lauren Duvall, Maddie McDaniel and Ellie Harmeyer are all players for the James Madison women's lacrosse team, which won the NCAA Division-I national championship over Memorial Day weekend.

Severna Park Natives Power JMU Women’s Lax To NCAA Championship

Colin Murphy
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June 26, 2018

Not many people around the country expected the James Madison women’s lacrosse team to win the national championship when the season began back in February.

The Dukes didn’t heed anyone else’s predictions, and they had a significant Severna Park presence help power them to the peak of the sport.

James Madison defeated Boston College 16-15 in the NCAA Division-I championship game in Stony Brook, New York, on May 27 to complete a 22-1 season and win the program’s first national championship.

Severna Park natives Lauren DuVall (Severna Park High School ’15), Ellie Harmeyer (Severna Park High School ’15) and Maddie McDaniel (Severn School ’16) were all members of the Dukes’ historic national-championship squad. DuVall was a starter all year on defense, while McDaniel was a starter all year on attack. Harmeyer was a goalie for JMU, playing in 15 games this season and making 11 starts.

Fresh off a semifinal defeat of North Carolina, the Dukes’ Severna Park-area players made huge impacts in helping James Madison to victory over Boston College in the final. DuVall made a clean strip and recovery of the ball on the game’s opening possession, setting the tone defensively for the game. McDaniel scored a goal early in the second half that tied the game at 10-10, the second goal of a four-goal run that saw James Madison overtake BC and never trail again on the way to winning.

The national championship was the first for the Colonial Athletic Association school based in Harrisonburg, Virginia. An outsider to the traditional group of schools in perennial national contention, the Dukes’ tournament run broke the 14-year powerhouse stranglehold on the sport’s national championship, which had been won by either Northwestern, North Carolina or Maryland every year since 2005. The Dukes started the year ranked No. 16 in the country and announced their status as legitimate contenders in the season opener on February 10 by defeating North Carolina, the 2016 national champions, 15-14 in double overtime. After defeating Towson to win the CAA championship, James Madison defeated traditional powers Virginia and Florida in the national tournament before defeating the Tar Heels again in the semifinals and BC in the final.

“This means the world to me,” said McDaniel. “It is such an honor to show the lacrosse world that it is more than just the notorious powerhouses. We were able to show new, smaller programs that they too have a chance as long as they put in the work. On our team, every single one of us believed we could win a national championship even though a lot of other people didn’t. When we beat UNC in the first game of the season, we all looked around at each other and thought, ‘Wow, we can do this!’”

DuVall, who won three lacrosse state championships and two field hockey state championships while also running for the indoor track team at Severna Park, said playing multiple sports while growing up in a culture of excellence helped prepare her to contribute to James Madison’s historic breakthrough.

“Growing up in Severna Park prepared me for the next level by teaching me a championship mentality, said DuVall. “I think playing multiple sports made me so much mentally stronger. Playing a sport at the D1 level in college is not easy by any means, but my coaches in high school made sure that I knew that and prepared me.”

DuVall specifically mentioned former Severna Park field hockey coach Ann Andrews and lacrosse coach Carin Peterson in helping her development. “I would not have gotten to where I am without [Ann and Carin] pushing me and encouraging me to be my best.”

McDaniel likewise cited her participation in multiple sports as a huge factor in her lacrosse development. McDaniel was a basketball standout at Severn and helped the Admirals basketball team to an IAAM championship in 2014.

“My role on the team this year really depended on my basketball IQ,” said McDaniel. “I am mainly a cutter, so my job is to anticipate what is going to happen next and read what my teammates want. Basketball movements are very similar to lacrosse, and that definitely helped me understand how to move.”

McDaniel said growing up in Severna Park and having the opportunity to play Green Hornets sports and compete at a high level all throughout her youth helped prepare her to do great things on the college stage.

“Many people on my team have a tough time adjusting to the speed of the college game, but playing at such a high level in high school was beneficial in preparing me for college,” she said. “Severna Park is such a special, close-knit community, which is something I have always admired.”

DuVall, who like McDaniel was recruited to a range of schools before ultimately choosing James Madison, said the Dukes’ victory shows the power of setting goals, working hard and defying expectations.

“After having a couple days to reflect on the win and read all the articles and social media posts, I noticed so many people calling us a ‘Cinderella story,’” said DuVall. “So many people doubted our ability to win this season, but it only made us work harder. Competing in a national championship is something JMU lacrosse has never been afraid to talk about and has always been a goal for this program. We worked so hard to earn every win, and it just feels good to prove people wrong.”


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