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Ellie Masera is a fan of the Sixes discipline.

Black, Masera Loving the Speed of Sixes at Training Camp

June 11, 2024
Jake Epstein
USA Lacrosse

SPARKS, Md. — Before Sydni Black departed for an end-of-season vacation to Florida, Loyola assistant Dana Dobbie reached out to make sure she was consistently checking her email.

Black said she didn’t have a clue what Dobbie was talking about, but a fateful email struck her inbox during a beach trip, causing the attacker to drop her phone in excitement. After piling on 106 points in 2024, Black received a coveted invite to U.S. women’s Sixes training camp at USA Lacrosse headquarters.

“I was with one of my college roommates, and I just freaked out,” Black said. “I was screaming to her, and we were both so excited. I just called my mom right away, called my dad right away, and was just incredibly honored.”

For Black, this week’s three-day training session marked her first career appearance at a U.S. camp. She said she has emphasized the ability to learn from her peers and coaches, consulting “the best athletes in the world” at any possible opportunity.

While Monday and Tuesday were Black’s first sessions officially wearing the red, white and blue, the Cincinnati product first picked up the Sixes discipline while training with the Greyhounds last fall.

“It’s really fun to run and gun a little bit. I love running fast and getting up and down the field,” Black said. “Especially as an attacker, I don’t get to do it as much, so it’s so much fun. Playing with the talent here just makes you go so much harder and faster.”

A speedy and crafty attacker capable of finding a scoring window at a moment’s notice, Black has quickly meshed with her new teammates. This includes Ellie Masera, who represented the U.S. in Sixes at The World Games in 2022. That team won a silver medal.

Forging her own path to superstardom at Stony Brook, Masera said she gets chills whenever she represents the Seawolves and the U.S. Now, she’s right at home in a discipline that reminds her of why she fell in love with lacrosse.

“I love the speed, and I love that you score a goal but can’t really dwell on it,” Masera said. “It allows you to forget about mistakes. You missed a shot, let me get back on defense. The fast pace of the game really fits my love of lacrosse.”

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Masera said the combination of new perspectives and shifting rules in the discipline have made the camp into the most fun experience she has had with Sixes.

“We’re all learning from each other, so I have some experience with the past, and some people have experience with just looking at the rules now,” Masera said. “It’s great to learn from just playing. We’re all piggybacking off each other because it’s so new. No one really knows exactly how it’s supposed to be played.”

On Monday afternoon, Masera guarded Izzy Scane in defensive sets. The next day, the two linked up as teammates.

Scane, the all-time NCAA Division I women’s goals leader, has essentially turned back the clock this week as she plays a defensive role she hasn’t occupied since early in her freshman season at Northwestern.

“It’s not a tryout right now; basically we’re all trying to get a feel for the Sixes game,” Scane said. “It’s very low stress, low pressure, but they want us to play with the same intensity as we would in [a tryout]. Everybody is going super hard, and [they’re] the most crazy and aggressive practices I’ve been a part of in a really long time.”

While Scane, Masera, Chase Boyle and Jackie Wolak each attended the Tewaaraton Award ceremony less than two weeks ago, Marie McCool occupied similar shoes as a Tewaaraton finalist in 2017 and 2018. The North Carolina graduate and U.S. women’s gold medalist has embraced her role as one of the field’s veterans.

McCool said her two-way middie experience has left her peers on attack asking for plenty of defensive tips, but they’ve been especially quick learners.

“The attackers are crushing it on defense,” McCool said. “They’re like, ‘Marie, help me. Tell me what to do. Just yell at me.’ I’m like, ‘You got it, you got it.’ They’re getting knockdowns, doing a great job. Everybody is embracing it and having fun with it.”

It may not have dawned on Black when she first received the invite, but the 5-foot-3 attacker said she and her peers are on the cusp of a consequential moment in the sport with the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics just four years away.

“To be a part of this first group looking ahead for gold in LA is an incredible honor — but more than that, it’s helping push the game forward,” Black said. “If any player can help move the game toward the Olympics … you’re going to be a part of history.”