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Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse: Three breakout players to watch this weekend

Marie McCool dodges against Taylor Cummings (Athletes Unlimited)

The first weekend of Athletes Unlimited’s inaugural lacrosse season is officially in the books.

The newly minted professional league is the third under the Athletes Unlimited’s umbrella, after they previously debuted similar leagues for softball and volleyball.

Now, it’s lacrosse’s turn.

For five weeks, the world’s best lacrosse players are all in the Metro DC area at Maureen Hendricks Field competing to be the first Athletes Unlimited champion.

After the first weekend of action, here are three players to keep an eye on heading into week two:

Kayla Wood, Defender

“Kayla Wood is my new favorite person,” team captain Kylie Ohlmiller said over the weekend. “And you can quote me on that.”

Wood had a monster weekend, putting up a league-leading 501 points, 90 of which came from being named game MVP in two of her three competitions.

A crafty defender fresh off of North Carolina’s Final Four run, Wood has reaped the benefits of AU’s custom points system. Built to reward defenders appropriately, the system allows players to earn individual points which go beyond just goals and assists.

Wood racked up her points on caused turnovers (36) and draw control (20), while also earning 335 points for both periods won and games won.

As a team captain this week, Wood had the opportunity to draft her own team. For her to stay atop the leaderboard, she’ll need to keep winning both periods and games, meaning her team-selection abilities as well as her defensive skills will be put to the test this weekend.

Marie McCool, Midfielder

Asked who she would draft if given the choice, lacrosse legend Taylor Cummings said Marie McCool. After the first weekend, it’s easy to see why.

Like Wood, McCool also racked up MVP points (60), with one first place and one third place MVP finish. At home in the midfield, she wasted no time raking in the goals, scoring six to go along with two assists. Included was the first two-point goal in the history of Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse, which earned the midfielder an additional 16 points.

Through the first weekend of action, McCool is tied with Halle Majorana for third in goals scored, one behind Taylor Cummings and four behind Kayla Treanor.

Sitting 17th on the leaderboard with 315 points, expect McCool to climb the rankings with another strong performance this weekend.

Kenzie Kent, Attack

A two-sport athlete in ice hockey and lacrosse at Boston College, Kent had a decorated college career on both the field and the ice. She played in five Final Fours — including two in lacrosse — and was named the ACC Athlete of the Year during the 2016-17 season. She was drafted fourth overall by the Boston Pride in the 2017 NWHL Draft but opted to return to lacrosse after a year away.

Now, she’s with AU and already making a splash.

Kent had a particularly great second game, wracking up 139 total points, including scoring two goals for 24 points.

She has the power to continue to be a factor on offense. During her time at Boston College she wracked up 131 goals, including 52 in her final season — despite having taken a year off to pursue hockey. Additionally, Kent is just as prolific an assister as she is a scorer, having tallied 133 assists during her college years.

Tune in: Team Wood, featuring Kenzie Kent, will begin the second weekend of play against Team Treanor on Friday, July 30 at 5 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

Editor’s note: Athletes Unlimited is a sponsor of Just Women’s Sports.