The Year of Charlotte North

The pitch of the cheers could break the sound barrier.

Lined shoulder to shoulder along the front row of stands at Tierney Field, the fans, mostly preteen girls, waited for the U.S. women’s national team for more than 30 minutes. One name was on most of their minds. It was the one those sitting on the hill behind the opposite sideline shouted almost as frequently as “USA!” during the 13-5 win over Canada. The one whose mere presence when she emerged from the tunnel on this night in mid-October sent a jolt through the stands at Fall Classic the same way her creativity and flair captivated the lacrosse world in 2021.


“It’s crazy to be on the other side of it because I am playing alongside all those people I watched and look up to,” said Charlotte North, who started the game at attack with Kayla Treanor and Sam Apuzzo.

While growing up in Dallas, she watched any stream she could of the U.S. women’s national team. “It’s just a dream come true,” she added.

The loudest roar of the night occurred a little over an hour earlier. North was at the center of the reaction again. During the second quarter of her first-ever international game, she executed a perfect box fake that fooled the entire Canada defense, then buried a bounce shot on the run to give the U.S. a 5-1 lead. She led the team with three goals and three assists.

“This kid’s the future,” Paul Rabil commented on the fake and goal sequence that, like most of North’s highlights, was the center of the lacrosse conversation for the next 24 hours.

“… and the present,” ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra rightly replied.

“She’s the still the same kid with the best laugh and best smile.” 

— Maggie Koch

At a time when lacrosse is searching for the next face of the sport in the wake of Rabil’s retirement, few can stake a stronger claim than North. At this point, she hardly needs an introduction. Over the past few weeks, North dominated USA Lacrosse Magazine’s year end #BestOfLax awards, winning every category in which she was a nominee — including “Best Player.”

She’s long since surpassed just being the Boston College transfer from Duke who’s post-practice trick shot broke the internet after Carcaterra shared it on Twitter in January 2020. North lifted BC to its first national championship last season while winning seemingly every award and breaking records along the way. An NCAA record 102 goals. An NCAA tournament record 31 goals. An NCAA championship game record 6 goals against Syracuse.

There are too many other accomplishments to list.

Less than a week after North celebrated with her teammates on the turf at Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium, the entire BC team was on hand at Gillette Stadium during the Premier Lacrosse League’s opening weekend to watch her receive the Tewaaraton Award. Rabil presented her the trophy. But before he announced Maryland attackman Jared Bernhardt as the men’s Tewaaraton winner, some of North’s teammates — wearing matching white t-shirts with the No. 102 in bold maroon font and a picture of North throwing up the “Hook ‘Em” sign — weren’t satisfied.

“Give it to Charlotte!” they shouted.

Their interjection in many ways hints at North’s transcendence. She gets shout outs from American soccer legend Abby Wambach. The likes of PLL pros like Archers LC attackman Will Manny are trying to replicate her moves. Every game she plays in has become appointment viewing. Turn away for one second, and you risk missing something spectacular.

At Tierney Field, the crowd simmered with anticipation every time North lined up for an eight-meter free position shot. She possesses the rare ability to turn ordinary elements of the game into something miraculous. North can even turn a ceremonial first pitch at a Texas Rangers game into a viral sensation. And she of course went behind-the-back. But it’s the way North takes her free position shots that Boston College head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein appreciates the most about her game.

“What I love about Charlotte is how she faces a fearful moment,” Walker-Weinstein said. “She’s not immune to nerves and fear, but she could be up on the eight-meter in a tie ballgame and she'll stick a corner where some kids freeze and they freak out and they doubt themselves. In those moments, Charlotte shows guts … I love girls who are not afraid of that pressured moment. I love it because that's deep, deep, deep inside of them. That's not something you can teach.”

On the second day of Fall Classic, North, who returned to Boston College for a fifth year, traded maroon and gold for red, white and blue. While she scored two goals against her teammates in prime time, she seemed most in her element earlier that day supporting her “37 best friends,” as she called them during her Tewaaraton Award acceptance speech. They were by her side when she set the lacrosse world on fire.

Despite the downpour that intensified throughout the Eagles’ 14-8 win over Canada, North’s enthusiasm hardly seemed dampened. Wearing a gray U.S. team jacket and red shorts, she offered high fives and emphatic hugs when her teammates completed line drills. She gave pregame pats on the back, then stood in the middle of the team’s bench, mostly anonymous besides her attire.

After Rachel Hall’s first split save of the afternoon about three minutes into the game, however, North was easy to notice. She unleashed a more impassioned reaction than after her own goals. The celebrations, mostly fist pumps (and sometimes double) rained down after every takeaway, goal or save. North shouted instructions during clears. She nervously pulled on the tassels of her sweatshirt and nibbled on the hem of the hood. She raced under a tent to retrieve a draw stick for one of her teammates.

“I wanted to do anything I could to help,” North said.


After signing autographs for more than 15 minutes after the Canada game and even balancing on a bucket to reach up to some fans in the stands, North paused once she noticed Maggie Koch standing near the entrance of Tierney Field. She sprinted as fast as she had the entire game. They hugged.

“For any lacrosse lover, the level of the sport right now is amazing, so it’s great to see her help contribute to the growth of the game,” said Koch, the Episcopal School of Dallas Girls’ Lacrosse Program Director and varsity head coach who started coaching North in 2015, one week after Fall Classic. “I’m looking forward to the day, which I imagine will be in the near future, that I see a man wearing a Charlotte North jersey or a little boy wearing a Charlotte North jersey.

“I can’t wait for that.”

After taking a few pictures with Koch and U.S. team goalie Liz Hogan, North returned to signing autographs and taking selfies with the fans that swarmed the gate at the corner of Tierney Field. Koch then snapped a picture of her own.

But instead of the wave of autograph seekers, what stands out the most to her looking back on that photo is North’s reaction. It’s the same look she had on her face in the moments after Boston College upset North Carolina in the final four. For the player Koch calls the consummate teammate who loves the game of lacrosse more than anyone she’s ever met, it‘s that expression she’ll never forgot.

“She’s the still the same kid with the best laugh and best smile,” Koch said. “Nothing has changed personality-wise for her or in the way she carries herself.”