Attacker Kayla Treanor earned her second Player of the Match honor after leading Team USA to the gold medal game with a team-best eight points in their 19-8 semifinal win over England.

Humble, Yet Hungry Treanor Grows into Leader for Team USA in First World Cup

Niskayuna (N.Y.) standout Kayla Treanor stepped into the spotlight the minute she arrived at Syracuse. She became the first freshman in school history to earn IWLCA First Team All-American honors and was the Big East Tournament MVP in 2013. Treanor then went on to become a three-time Tewaaraton finalist her sophomore through senior seasons alongside three-time Tewaaraton winner Taylor Cummings.

Ask anyone in the lacrosse world and they’d say Treanor’s college campaign was nothing short of spectacular, especially when her highlight reel appeared on ESPN countless times.

But the door opened for Treanor when 2012 Tewaaraton finalist Michelle Tumolo, who was a senior in Treanor’s freshman campaign, went down with an ACL injury in April of 2013. Treanor, once a right-handed player, took over Tumolo’s spot on the left side behind the crease and never looked back.

Today, after a successful recovery for Tumolo, the Syracuse duo has been reunited as teammates once again, aiming for a gold medal with Team USA in the FIL Rathbones Women’s World Cup in Guildford, England. Combining for 13 points, they led the Americans to the championship against Canada after connecting for three goals around the crease in their 19-8 semifinal win over England.

“We really didn’t get to play together that much,” Treanor said. “We played for three-quarters of a season together. It was so devastating when she went down, but I think all that hard work has paid off for this moment.”

“If you’re going to get run over, you might as well get run over by a Rolls Royce. ... People like Kayla [Treanor] and Taylor Cummings, they are the next generation of lacrosse players." - England coach Phil Collier

Treanor, who finished with eight points on five goals and three assists against the English, became the first American to be named Player of the Match twice. She earned the first honor also against England in pool play after tallying 12 points, which set a new U.S. single-game record, surpassing U.S. great Lindsey Munday.

“She’s breaking records but it’s Kayla Treanor,” said Tumolo, whom U.S. assistant Liz Roberthsaw described as Treanor’s “big sister” on offense. “That’s who she is. She is a phenomenal player and I’m not one bit surprised the way she’s playing. It’s hard for people to stop her. She has all types of tricks up her sleeve.”

But like Tumolo, Treanor has grown to fit her style of play within the U.S. system. At Syracuse, it became known that she would be the team’s go-to scorer. As such, she became the Orange’s all-time leading scorer. With Team USA, the pressure of being the goal scorer on every play has been lifted because of the widespread talent across the roster, which allows her to succeed even more.

“When you watched her at Syracuse, [the ball] got to her and everyone watched,” said Robertshaw. ‘”Here, she knows we’re getting it to her. If she has a scoring look, take it. If not, move the ball. That’s why she’s done really well with the assisting because she draws some of that attention and then other people are open and she’s finding those open cutters really well. That’s been one of things that’s been big for her in her growth with us.”

Not only is Treanor Team USA’s leading scorer, she also has a team-high 19 assists, to become the tournament’s point leader through seven games in Guildford, England.

“She’s somebody that’s really hard to take away,” coach Ricky Fried said. “She has a great skill set and is super dynamic, but also she’s also leading our team in assists. I think that says a lot about her that she’s not focused on her goals. … She’s not thinking about what she’s supposed to do but just making plays.”

Playing within the U.S. system means embracing your individuality as well as a team mentality. Treanor is at the right place at the right time to get her goals, Fried said, because she and her teammates work together to set her up for success. According to Robertshaw, it’s also her ability to ride that allows her to get the ball and start the fast break back to goal, helping the U.S. offense remain dominant.

“She’s embraced the big moments. We’ve seen that with her at Syracuse,” Robertshaw said, as Treanor was key in pushing Syracuse deeper into the postseason during her career, including in 2015 when she scored the game-winning goal against North Carolina in double overtime to win the program’s first ACC title. “She’s doing what she needs to do in order to help the team win.”


"Everyone makes a play that stands out. Everyone is an all star. Everyone is a great player. It’s really your teammates that make each other look so good that’s so special." - Kayla Treanor

Even off the field, Treanor is getting noticed. While individual awards continue to add to her resume, her play, like that of teammates', resonates with the future generation of lacrosse stars.

“Every single kid out here looks to her and says, ‘I want to be like Kayla Treanor,’” Tumolo said. “She is a leader with her being young. … We were coached by Gary Gait and that is a legend in itself, so we know what it takes to be that person. Just coming in at Syracuse, she was a legend as soon as she stepped on the field. Now, being on the U.S. level, every single person is looking at her saying, ‘I want to be like Kayla.’”

According to Fried, “this team will transcend the sport, whether individuals do or not,” but to the public eye, including England coach Phil Collier who witnessed the Americans’ dominance firsthand in a match he compared to David and Goliath, the U.S. players will continue to stand out.

“If you’re going to get run over, you might as well get run over by a Rolls Royce,” Collier said. “I think the U.S. team obviously has great athletes. … People like Kayla and Taylor Cummings, they are the next generation of lacrosse players. They had massive fans today, who loved seeing them play, and hopefully inspired those girls to move the sport into the future.”

But in true U.S. style, Treanor remained humble: “It’s really easy to stand out when you’re playing with such good people that make you look so good.”