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The men's and women's Sixes training teams began a three-day camp on Monday.

Sixes Training Camp Brings Out Best in Men's, Women's Coaches and Players

June 10, 2024
Jake Epstein
USA Lacrosse

SPARKS, Md. — Several dozen of the nation’s brightest stars descended upon Tierney Field for the opening day of U.S. men’s and women’s Sixes training camp on Monday.

During day one of the three-day camp, coaches and players looked to build camaraderie and adjust to the Sixes discipline with key Sixes competitions to come in the future — like the sport’s appearance in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“It’s just such a crazy feeling to have lacrosse in the Olympics,” former Rutgers midfielder and Athletes Unlimited draftee Cassidy Spilis said. “It’s one of those things that you don’t know if it's ever going to happen. … To even be considered to be a part of that is such a huge deal for everyone on the field.”

Behind head coach Andy Shay — who was named the men’s Sixes team’s head coach after leading the U.S. to a silver medal in The World Games in 2022 — the men’s players went through several defensive sets before opening up to scrimmage play within an hour.

Ranging from 2017 college graduates to rising college sophomores, the 23-player training roster includes national team veterans, Sixes standouts, college All-Americans and Premier Lacrosse League All-Stars.

“People understand what this is about, and they want to be a part of it,” Shay said. “When we put a notice out to certain guys, the ones that could jumped at the chance, and the ones who couldn’t expressed they wanted to be involved moving forward.”

As he assembled his staff, Shay made sure to reach out to 10-time professional champion coach and defensive guru Tony Resch. Shay said he couldn’t ask for a more qualified assistant.

“He’s forgotten more lacrosse than I’ll ever know,” Shay said of Resch. “There’s nobody I’d rather have in terms of the resources and the man.”

Shay said he and Resch are eyeing athleticism, competitiveness and finishing ability in player evaluations.

For Resch, scrimmage play’s first 15 minutes felt like a blur. He said players sprinted toward every corner of the field, while attackers who hadn't played a minute of defense in years were thrust into shot-stopping roles.

“As you watch the flow of the game, you’re just like, ‘Who would sign up to be the [defensive] coach for this,’” Resch quipped. “It’s a shorter field, and the opportunities are plentiful with that shot clock. One thing we know about these guys, they are hyper competitive athletes.”

With each passing session, Shay and Resch said they hope to see the especially talented individuals — each of whom donned their respective college or professional helmets — gain more familiarity with the discipline and forge a cohesive unit.

“Even in our first session, so many of these guys are used to being, ‘The Guy,’ and the fact that they’ll come out here and understand this kind of move, pick and stay active [scheme] and make that adjustment is really impressive.”

Trinity McPherson, Madison Doucette, Ally Mastroianni and Kayla Wood
Left to right: Trinity McPherson, Madison Doucette, Ally Mastroianni and Kayla Wood.
USA Lacrosse

Just minutes after the men’s session wrapped up, women’s head coach Lindsey Munday led her array of superstars onto Tierney Field. Four of five 2024 Tewaaraton Finalists, nearly a dozen U.S. team veterans and 16 Athletes Unlimited players and draft picks took part in Monday’s session.

Munday, a two-time World Cup champion herself, said she always wanted to “give back” and coach in the U.S. national team system, but she needed to find the right timing. After wrapping up her 12th season at USC, Munday found she was finally capable of giving 100 percent to both her college and country.

“One single rep at a Team USA practice is the hardest thing you’ll ever do,” Munday said. “It’s just so intense. The skill is so high, it’s just a different level, and you have to continually bring your very best every rep.”

The 24-player field worked on stick skills and shooting before transitioning into 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 sets. Munday and assistant coach Michelle Tumolo capped the session with a 5-on-5 drill.

Former Denver defender Trinity McPherson said the sheer talent level on display left her a little nervous ahead of the three-day camp. But the All-American who wrapped up her graduate campaign with the Pioneers in May felt right at home once play began.

“I was talking to someone, and they were like, ‘There’s something to be said about iron sharpens iron,’” McPherson said. “When you play with the best, it only elevates your own game. It’s absolutely insane to see the level of talent that’s on this field. It absolutely blows my mind to see some of the things these girls are doing.”

Like the earlier men’s session, Monday afternoon’s game-simulated drills thrust marquee attackers like Izzy Scane, Jackie Wolak and Sydni Black into the defensive fire. With no 8-meter or three-second calls, McPherson said aggression levels soared as the session progressed.

Heading into the camp’s latter two days and looking toward future competition, Munday said feedback from players will be pivotal to standing at the forefront of Sixes innovation.

“The U.S. has the best players in the world, and we want to showcase that,” Munday said. “We want to showcase the very best lacrosse to the entire world, and ultimately — it being in the Olympics — we want to win gold.”

The men’s and women’s sessions mark the only training camp ahead of the inaugural USA Lacrosse Experience in Indianapolis from Oct. 11-12 later this year. Both Sixes squads will face international competition during the event.