Mastroianni, North, Trenchard Having Year Beyond Their Wildest Dreams

Ally Mastroianni, Emma Trenchard and Charlotte North played their first lacrosse games of the year in February. Mastroianni and Trenchard for North Carolina and North for Boston College.

They haven’t stopped since.

After both ACC powers competed in the national championship game — a 12-11 win by North Carolina — the trio had a week off before joining the U.S. women’s national team for training camp before the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship. They went on to help the Americans to a fourth-straight gold medal. Less than two weeks later, they made their professional debuts with Athletes Unlimited.

All three are born competitors. All three had big dreams when they fell in love with lacrosse. But none of them predicted they’d have a year like 2022.

“It’s crazy how far the game has come,” Mastroianni said. “It’s really, really cool to be right in the middle of it all. When I played for the first time, it was in the backyard with my brother or with the other little sisters at the boys’ tournaments.”

To be fair, professional women’s lacrosse wasn’t even a thing when Mastroianni picked up a stick in New Jersey. Neither were multi-year ESPN deals — North used to have to navigate paywalls and wait for YouTube highlight reels if she wanted to see Kayla Treanor play. Trenchard couldn’t watch much high-level lacrosse for the same reason.

“Unfortunately, when I was younger, I don’t think there was as much of a platform,” Trenchard said. “That was unfortunate. The game was able to change. I’m thankful that young girls now can access the games and the people they want to look up to.”

But early in the collegiate season, Trenchard’s place on the sport’s biggest stages was in flux. She sprained her ankle and had to sit out four games — the “what if” game began.

“When it first happened, I was in a mental rut,” she said. “I was thinking ahead, ‘What if I can’t play NCAAs? What if I can’t play for the U.S.?’ I was jumping ahead. I realized the season was long.”

Trenchard says that learning not to think too far into the future has prevented the mental burnout that could come from playing nonstop lacrosse for more than six months.

“When I was at UNC, it was, ‘Are you so excited for the World Cup?’ And when I was at the World Cup, it was, ‘Are you so excited for AU?’” Trenchard recalled. “My answer was, ‘Yes, I am excited for it, but I am not going to look to the future because I don’t want to mentally get burned out.’ I was always focusing on what I had at hand.”

“I’m thankful that young girls now can access the games and the people they want to look up to.”

— Emma Trenchard

North had a similar outlook when it came to pacing herself physically for every challenge ahead.

“I took it one day at a time,” North said. “I really just tried to focus on where I was and be in that moment and be present. With our BC season, I was in my fifth year, and we had so much help from our athletic training staff, the doctor and our strength and conditioning coach … same thing with the U.S. They always kept us fueled and recovering well even after late games.”

The constant games, late finishes, interviews and autograph sessions can seem exhausting. Several U.S. games were delayed (and then delayed again) due to wet weather in Towson, Md., further adding to that exhaustion. But the trio has leaned on each other over the last couple of months, checking in during rare weeks off to make sure everyone is giving themselves permission to relax.

“We totally relied on each other to keep checks and balances,” said Trenchard, who often drew matchups with North in college. “Ally and I really appreciate the relationship with Charlotte and are really thankful for the experience with her.”

And there are no hard feelings over that national title game.

“I respect them so much,” North said. “It’s been awesome getting closer with them. We laugh about our past matchups.”

Part of the UNC experience involves adhering to a mantra: “We get to.” It’s not about “having to go to practice,” it’s about “getting to go to practice.” And Mastroianni has carried that approach into her post-collegiate career.

“Taking a step back and expressing that gratitude gets you through the days where you are physically and mentally exhausted, and surrounding yourself with great teammates helps,” she said.

Then, her voice perked up, and you could almost hear her smile through the phone. “But it’s so much fun.”

And playing lacrosse all year has its benefits. When the three arrived at U.S. training camp, they were already in game shape. National team head coach Jenny Levy, who is also the UNC head coach, let them take some reps off. They trained for the Athletes Unlimited season by playing with and against some of the top players on the planet at the world championship.

“Being able to go against people every single day at school definitely prepares you when you get to U.S. training camp and AU,” Mastroianni said. “It’s like, ‘It’s time for 1-v-1.’ We’ve been doing this every day for months … it’s nice to have those teammates to go against and prepare you.”

During training camp and the world championship, many of those teammates were the ones playing behind paywalls — the ones who existed in YouTube highlight reels. Mastroianni, Trenchard and North all had to do a double take when they realized they were wearing the same jersey as players like Treanor and Taylor Cummings.

“I never thought I’d get to play with all my idols in the game, especially on U.S. soil,” North said. “It was something I first dreamed of when I picked up a stick. I remember watching the 2017 World Cup and dreaming of it.”


Treanor and Cummings recently announced their retirements from Team USA, and neither is playing in Athletes Unlimited this year. The last few months haven’t featured too many bummers for North — save for the bittersweet ending as an NCAA runner-up — but the two-time Tewaaraton Award winner already misses having the two legends on the field.

“It’s sad for me because I am such big fans of theirs … there will be no one else like them,” North said. “I admire what they have done on the field in inspiring other people but also working tirelessly to push the needle forward to grow the game and help women’s lacrosse get the attention it deserves.”

But it’s left the door open for new players to push the sport forward, and all three want to pick up where Treanor and Cummings left off. It starts with Athletes Unlimited, where a new champion will be crowned with last year’s winner Cummings out.

Before getting drafted into AU, Mastroianni, Trenchard and North knew they had busy years ahead. But entering the draft was a no-brainer.

“Watching AU last year was awesome,” North said. “It was so competitive, fast and fun. It adds so much to our game. To be able to say there is professional lacrosse is so awesome, special and something I dreamed of growing up … how to make professional lacrosse a thing and make it long-term.”

Making it long-term means that some of the young kids watching this season will one day get their turns at being professional athletes. For now, those young players have a chance to dream about being the next Mastroianni, Trenchard and North — and they get to watch them paywall- free on ESPN’s family of networks and in the stands at USA Lacrosse headquarters.

The three got a taste of the future during the world championship when late-ending, rain-soaked games didn’t deter young girls from sticking around to meet their new favorite players.

“It would be 11:00 or midnight, and there were all these little girls on the sidelines in the stands waiting for autographs, which was really cool,” Mastroianni said. “It shows how far women’s sports have come. We have a long way to go, and I think using our platform at AU and all that USA Lacrosse is doing to build the game is exactly what we need to do to grow the sport in all areas.”