Charlotte Haggerty scored three goals for James Madison against the U.S. team during the 2018 Team USA Fall Classic. This weekend, she'll get the opportunity to train with Team USA at the IWLCA President's Cup in Florida.

How a Pair of JMU Sophomores Found Their Way to Team USA

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are.”

One of the most famous lines from a Disney song seems appropriate as the U.S. women’s national team gets set for a training weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

That’s certainly the case for Charlotte Haggerty, a sophomore at James Madison who earned a spot playing alongside the nation’s best players for this weekend’s IWLCA President’s Cup. The U.S. will play three games — an intra-squad scrimmage followed by exhibitions against select teams from the United Women’s Lacrosse League and Women’s Professional Lacrosse League — as part of the recruiting event that features more than 6,000 aspiring college lacrosse players.

Haggerty played in all 23 games during JMU’s national championship run in 2018, scoring 12 goals in a complementary role on a senior-dominated team.

When JMU took on the U.S. team during the Team USA Fall Classic in October, Haggerty showed she’s more than capable of stepping up into a leading role. Haggerty scored a hat trick, including a nifty driving goal in the fourth quarter that gave the Dukes a 9-8 lead over Team USA.

The U.S. rallied to take a 10-9 lead after four quarters and then pulled away for a 14-10 victory over JMU in the five-quarter exhibition.

“JMU did a great job against us in the fall,” said U.S. team head coach Jenny Levy, whose North Carolina team was knocked out of the 2018 NCAA tournament in the semifinals by the Dukes.

"Three or four years ago, I didn’t even know if I wanted to commit to playing at the next level. Anything is possible. You have to believe you are good enough." — Molly Dougherty

Haggerty and JMU goalie Molly Dougherty, both sophomores, were selected to compete with Team USA this weekend along with four other current collegiate players — Dempsey Arsenault and 2018 Tewaaraton winner Sam Apuzzo from Boston College, Ally Kennedy from Stony Brook and Emma Trenchard from North Carolina.

They’re part of a 25-player pool that includes a dozen players that won gold at the 2017 World Cup, and also includes Dougherty and Haggerty’s former JMU teammate Elena Romesburg.

It’s all part of building a robust player pool for the national team program. This will be Levy’s second event since taking over as head coach of the U.S. team, which is building toward the 2021 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup, which will be hosted by US Lacrosse at Towson.

“We’ve brought in 37 players, and we’re still looking to increase that pool over the next year,” Levy said. “We’re trying to build a program, not a one-time team. In order to do that, you need to build a pool of players that you become comfortable with. Last time, we had a lot of players that had just gotten out of college. With the current college players, it won’t interfere with their fall schedule and they should bring a good level of fitness and excitement. When you look ahead to 2021, they might be on the team.”

Haggerty was plenty excited to get the call inviting her to the training weekend from U.S. team manger Colleen Shearer, an assistant coach on JMU’s national championship team last year.

“I was kind of in shock,” Haggerty said. “I’ve been playing this sport my whole life and since I was a little girl, this has been a dream of mine. It’s so exciting, so incredible. I don’t even know the word…I’m grateful, humbled.”

For Dougherty, it was even more unbelievable.

“I didn’t know why she was calling me,” Dougherty said. “I asked if I was in trouble and there was a long pause and she just laughed. How crazy is this? Three or four years ago, I didn’t even know if I wanted to commit to playing at the next level. Anything is possible. You have to believe you are good enough.”

Dougherty’s doubts were rooted in a lack of opportunity at national power St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes in Northern Virginia.

“I didn’t really know what I could achieve,” Dougherty said. “I played three years on the JV pretty much. It wasn’t easy.”

One of the players blocking her path to playing time as a goaltender was Gussie Johns, a 2018 USC graduate who earned a gold medal playing for the U.S. team at the 2017 World Cup. Now they’ll be teammates.

Going down to Florida is a full-circle moment for Dougherty. Her last trip to the Sunshine State was for the President’s Cup. It’s where she committed to JMU. But arriving at JMU set her up for the waiting game once again.

A hip injury and crowded goaltending situation left her redshirting the 2017 season. She began the 2018 season as JMU’s backup, but came off the bench in the second half to make eight saves in the Dukes season-opening upset of North Carolina 15-14 in overtime. But even then she had to wait.

“One good half doesn’t make you a starter,” Dougherty said. “You have to work and earn it.”

She more than earned the opportunity.

“I started going in early in the morning to lift and stay after practice,” Dougherty said. “I’d go to every single shooting drill. A lot of times, there was no defense, so I might see 500 shots. I wanted to make myself better and help prepare.”

Midway through the year, Dougherty finally took over as the full-time starter and the Dukes went undefeated with her in net on the way to the national title.

This fall, she proved she was more than capable of stepping up to a higher level. When she left the field after three quarters of play against the nation’s best players, JMU led the U.S. team 7-6.


Molly Dougherty took over as the starting goaltender for James Madison midway through the 2018 season. She went undefeated to help lead the Dukes to the NCAA championship. Now, she gets the nod to train with Team USA.

Haggerty, the youngest of three college lacrosse-playing sisters, also showed she can step up, and credited JMU head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe for getting the Dukes ready for the challenge against Team USA.

“Coming into the game, Shelley said, ‘You have nothing to lose. Just give it your all,’” Haggerty said. “We took that opportunity to heart and really came together and thought, ‘Don’t be afraid of them, you can play with them.’”

It’s led to a pretty remarkable opportunity to cap off a wild year for Haggerty.

“I didn’t think either of these things would happen,” Haggerty said. “Winning a national championship as a freshman — the team dynamic we had, I felt so comfortable on that team. Now, getting to train with the U.S. team. It’s been like a dream, honestly.”

Team USA Game Schedule • Saturday, Nov. 17
ESPN Wide World of Sports (Field 18)

4:30 pm — USA Blue vs. USA White
6:15 pm — USA vs. UWLX Select Team
7:30 pm — USA vs. WPLL Select Team