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Trinity McPherson and Jackie Wolak at U.S. women's Sixes camp.

Eye-Popping Goals Everywhere at U.S. Women's Sixes Training Camp

June 12, 2024
Jake Epstein
USA Lacrosse

SPARKS, Md. — As Mckenna Davis darted across the Tierney Field crease in the final scrimmage of U.S. women’s Sixes training camp on Wednesday at USA Lacrosse headquarters, she unleashed a backhanded beam into the back of the net.

The highlight-reel moment presented a near carbon copy of her third-quarter buzzer beater for Boston College just 17 days prior in the national championship game.

“I practice that shot all the time, and my coaches get so frustrated with me because it doesn’t go in practice a lot,” Davis said. “They understand I’m practicing for those big moments. … A big part of my game is creativity, so shots like that come naturally.”

Although the U.S. blue versus white scrimmage didn’t carry the same implications as Davis’ last contest in Cary, N.C., scintillating skill displays and emphatic stick checks occurred at every turn.

For Kasey Choma, the quick transition component in Sixes facilitates significant creativity.

“There’s so many different styles of play that each individual brings,” Choma said. “You’re constantly learning from our amazing coaches, and then you watch these players, you’ve scouted them — now being able to play with them is so special.”

Just two minutes after Davis’ backhander, Erin Coykendall uncorked a buzzer-beating behind-the-back finish, sending the entire player pool and coaching staff into a frenzy.

Assistant coach Michelle Tumolo could hardly believe her eyes as she ran over to celebrate with the former Northwestern attacker.

“If SportsCenter was here, they would never run out of content, and they would probably run out of spots,” goalkeeper Madison Doucette said. “Amazing plays, BTBs, crazy low shots, the talent level was unmatched. … As a goalie, it was an ego hit at times in the best possible way.”

Doucette, who won a silver medal in Sixes at The World Games in 2022, said this week’s group brought a fun, dynamic mix that will help the U.S. build upon its previous achievements in the discipline. The wide range of talent and experience were especially noteworthy, she added.

Throughout the three-day training camp, Doucette said she and her fellow goalkeepers Delaney Sweitzer, Taylor Moreno and Caylee Waters were constantly on their toes with the rapid speed of Sixes play.

“You don’t have time to think,” Doucette said. “It’s super reactive, and that’s why players of this caliber really benefit from it. It’s a really cool feeling to get to the flow state of seeing the ball, making the save, or seeing the space, taking the shot. Everyone gets in that mindset and goes as hard as they can for 32 minutes.”

Playing out her final season of collegiate eligibility at Johns Hopkins in 2024 after taking a year off after her senior campaign at Northwestern, Doucette has retooled her approach to goalkeeping since her last international competition.

“I had time to reinvent myself as a goalie,” Doucette said. “I don’t think I’m the same goalie as I was in 2022, but if you’re the same player you were two years ago, you’ve made some mistakes. The pace of play [and] the talent of everyone has improved dramatically in two years.”

During the group’s final huddle, head coach Lindsey Munday reiterated that the week’s camp wasn’t a tryout, but she was blown away by the collective improvement with each session.

Entering day one, many players had never played a minute of the Sixes format. By the training camp’s conclusion, Munday and Tumolo watched in awe from the sideline as a full-length scrimmage went down to the wire.

“We’re doing it together, which is the cool part and the bonding part,” Munday said. “A lot of them said they hadn’t played the full-field Sixes before. To start it like that with the best players in the country is a pretty cool way to start your Sixes journey off. We’ve taken such a giant step forward in terms of our knowledge of the game and what we want to do.”

Along with feedback and learning, the training camp gave college teammates another chance to play together. Emma Tyrrell said she was ecstatic to take the field with Sweitzer and Emma Ward after their Syracuse careers wrapped up in the final four.

Tyrrell possessed prior experience with Sixes, but she said the training camp’s speed was far quicker than what she’d previously seen.

“I’m honored to be able to play with such an amazing group of girls,” Tyrrell said. “It really is so fun playing with some girls I’ve looked up to my whole life.”

While the camp was an initial step toward further international competition, Munday said it presented a microcosm of the game’s development.

The players participating at this week’s men’s and womens training camps will be in the pool for the inaugural USA Lacrosse Experience Event in Indianapolis from October 11-13. Tickets for the event are on sale now, in addition to registrations for the King & Queen of the Park youth competition held at White River State Park in Downtown Indy."

“With Sixes, it’s going to be the first opportunity that some regions of the world are going to see the sport,” Munday said. “When they can see the level of these players and the skill they have, it’s going to be awesome. Our goal is to show the world the best lacrosse there is, and these girls are going to be a part of that.”

One of just two players at the training camp with one season of collegiate eligibility remaining, Davis said she tried to gather as much knowledge as she could from players like Ally Mastroianni and Marie McCool.

Once she heads back to Boston College eyeing a second consecutive national title, Davis said the week’s experience will likely prove invaluable.

“It’s a crazy reality — this has been my dream since I was little [to] play in a U.S. uniform,” Davis said. “This has been surreal for me, just growing so much.”