Before beginning practice Tuesday, Maryland women’s lacrosse goalkeeper Megan Taylor waved around a Washington Capitals jersey, bantering alongside her teammates with assistant strength and conditioning coach Christian Hartford.

Hartford is a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, and with the two teams playing each other in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he and Taylor have developed a friendly rivalry.

With high pressure on the team as it enters the postseason to defend its conference and national championships, hockey is a perfect escape, members of the team said.

“It’s just a fun time to not think about lacrosse,” Taylor said.

[Read more: Maryland women’s lacrosse’s narrow focus helped it win a Big Ten title]

Members of the team watch games together, helping them grow closer and gain chemistry on the field. It’s a positive sign for coach Cathy Reese, who frequently preaches the importance of togetherness and playing for each other.

“This is one of the closest teams I’ve ever worked with in my career, staff-wise, team-wise,” Hartford said. “It’s great when the coaches can banter with the players and it speaks to the friendly relationship and the positive environment that is the culture.”

[Read more: Six Maryland women’s lacrosse players named All-Big Ten]

Attacker Megan Whittle points out that the team has the type of work ethic you’d expect from a dynastic program like Maryland, but still leaves room for keeping things loose — as the hockey rivalries suggest.

“We work very hard, but we have a lot of fun, have a lot of laughs and we’re here for a really good time,” Whittle said. “Everything is light, but when that whistle blows … we’re going hard. So that’s just the way the team is.”

Whittle recalled one practice when Taylor sported an Alexander Ovechkin Capitals jersey in goal, adding a twist to that day’s drills.

“I hopped into goal, and everybody started laughing because it was number eight and it’s super big on me, so it fit over my pads just right,” Taylor said. “It just got everyone going for the series.”

Though Taylor wore an Ovechkin jersey, she said her favorite player is Nicklas Backstrom, whom she admires for his grit and considers an unsung hero.

So it’s safe to say Taylor was pleased Tuesday, when Backstrom dished a pass that led to Ovechkin’s game-winning goal in the final minutes of the Caps’ 4-3 win over the Penguins.

And it’s safe to say her teammates were right there watching alongside her.

“We are always watching the Caps games,” Whittle said. “Taylor is always the first one yelling at the TV. It’s a tough life being a Caps fan, but we all support Meg for it.”