Senior goalie Megan Taylor has the best save percentage in Division I women’s lacrosse. She’s been named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week four weeks in a row, and she’s been the conference’s Goaltender of the Year for the past three seasons. The All-American is on the watch list for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding lacrosse player.

But in person, she’s less of a threat looming in the goal: She’s 5-foot-3 in cleats, happy go lucky, and might even congratulate you if you manage to score on her.

“When I was growing up, I saw a lot of goalies, when a shot would go in, bang their stick on the pipe and be so angry,” Taylor said. “I always give credit. I’m like, ‘Oh wow, good shot!’ sometimes in a game.”

She has helped lead the Terps to a 12–0 start to the season, including six saves to one goal allowed in the first half of Saturday’s 20–3 win over Rutgers. Her spirit, combined with her skills, flows through the defense and the team as a whole.Megan Taylor

“She’s seeing the ball really well, she’s making some fantastic saves,” Head Coach Cathy Reese said. “She’s communicating with her defense really well and leading the way as a captain for us.”

Taylor can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in the cage. Her older brother, Alex, was a goalie as well, so she jumped in as a kid to test her chops. Her dad was surprised at how quickly she took to the position—and that she wasn’t scared of the ball.

“Normally, I feel like a lot of goalies are bigger, they take up a lot of the goal. But I’m short,” Taylor said. “(Others) always just laugh, because they’re like, ‘There’s so much goal behind you, Meg, but we can’t get through!’”

The Glenelg, Md., native has made an impact since her freshman year on the powerhouse Terps team, which has won 14 national titles. She’s started nearly every game in goal and stepped up in the big moments, like the 13–12 overtime win vs. UNC in February, during which she notched 14 saves.

Even with all the success on the field, though, what Taylor savors are the pasta parties, the pregame meals, the hotel trips. She records a “Thumbs Up” Twitter show, named for her and fellow senior Caroline Steele’s signature hand gesture, where they play best-friend newlywed-style games and test out jellybean flavors.

“Sometimes I think it’s funny when we talk about her,” Reese said, “because you picture this goalie that has the top save percentage in the nation that’s just so super tough and a total badass, but then there’s this sweet girl.”

UMD next takes on Virginia on Wednesday, and true to Taylor’s demeanor, she’s not worrying about anything far beyond that. She’ll figure it out.

“Wherever her path takes her, she’ll be successful,” Reese said. “She’s just such a good people person. She’s good at relationships and communicating and just has fun. She’s somebody people want to be around.”