With two goals, one assist and three draw controls, Michelle Tumolo was named the Player of the Match in Team USA’s 17-3 rout of Canada.

Tumolo's Personal Growth Aids Team USA's Dominance in Canada Win

Michelle Tumolo, a 2013 Syracuse graduate, ended her collegiate career with back-to-back disappointments.

First, the All-American missed the cut for the final U.S. women’s national team roster that would compete in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup in Oshawa, Canada, and go on to win gold. Then, on April 13, she tore her ACL in the Orange’s 16-4 win over Cornell in the Carrier Dome.

Questions surfaced whether the 2012 Tewaaraton finalist would play on.

Soon, all doubts were silenced.

“I’ve seen her become a team leader and that is one of the things she’ll be remembered for the most – not the fancy stick work, not the flashy shots, but what’s she doing for this team and how she’s leading them.” – Assistant Liz Robertshaw

After years of rehab, Tumolo again tried out for Team USA in the summer of 2016. She made the 2017 U.S. World Cup squad and has scored seven goals in four games against Scotland, Australia, England and Canada in the Rathbones Women’s World Cup in Guildford, England.

With two goals, one assist and three draw controls, Tumolo was named the Player of the Match in Team USA’s 17-3 rout of their rival to the North on Sunday.

But the reason she made the final roster for this year’s event, and was named the most valuable player against Canada, wasn’t because of her scoring ability. It was because she is “a consummate teammate,” according to coach Ricky Fried.

“She’s played really well throughout the whole tournament,” Fried said. “I think the casual spectator probably doesn’t notice it as much, to be honest, because it’s not just points, which is what everybody gets excited about. She does all the little things consistently.”

It starts with the 12-player pressure ride – “she’s riding her butt off,” Fried said – which Tumolo described as the heart and soul of the team. It gives the team confidence because each player invests in it fully.

Tumolo, in particular, is seen all over the field, going to double team and causing turnovers to get the ball back in the hands of the U.S. – and the English announcers for the live streaming broadcast have caught on. Her last name may be one of the most said amongst the team.

Then, she’s getting draw controls when the specialists need help in the midfield and is the full-field force during defensive clears, whether she’s cutting to get open for the pass or sprinting the ball downfield herself.

Tumolo is also the attacker assistant Liz Robertshaw looks to as the “calming voice” when communicating an offensive set or simply making sure everyone’s on the same page.

“In my time with Michelle, I’ve seen her grow so much,” Robertshaw said. “Part of it, yes, has to do with coming back from an ACL [injury], but more importantly, I’ve seen her become such a team player, going from that kid that wanted the ball, take these chances and was a little more me-centered to becoming the player that after winning three awards today – game ball, flag bearer as well as MVP as the Player of the Match – walked in that room and said, ‘This isn’t my award. This is yours.”

Prior to Sunday’s tilt with Canada, the coaches awarded Tumolo with the game ball for her performance against the English for the reasons stated above.

“The great thing about this team is nobody cares about [points],” Fried said. “She epitomizes that. … She’s not worried about what she gets, but it’s being noticed and being awarded.”

Then defender Megan Douty, the flag bearer for the England game, passed the honor along to Tumolo for exemplifying to a tee what Team USA is all about – hard work off ball, creating opportunities for her teammates.

“She makes our life easier on the defensive end with all of her hard work,” said Douty. “Working together as a unit to make them turn over the ball for us is just what we’re looking for and she does a great job.”


U.S. assistant Liz Robertshaw has seen attacker Michelle Tumolo grow from a "me-centered" player to a true team player embodying the Team USA way.

Thinking back to 2013, Tumolo admits she was upset being cut, but explained how she took the time to understand how to play within the U.S. system. Again, it’s not about scoring goals. Rather, “you’ve got to do the dirty work,” she said. She remained humble and determined to get her opportunity to wear the red, white and blue.

“She was very close in 2013 and could’ve been bitter,” Fried said. “I’m sure she was upset and disappointed, but she let that drive her. That’s what this team is all about. They get driven by those moments as opposed to being held back.”

Playing against the Americans since falling 19-5 in the 2013 World Cup final, Canada relished at the chance for a rematch. But the U.S., whose roster has many first-time participants, stayed focused, much in part thanks to Tumolo.

“She reminds the players that are new to a World Cup just to calm down and play our game,” Robertshaw said. “It’s amazing that a player, who is in her first World Cup too, can do that because that’s not easy.

“I’ve seen her become a team leader and that is one of the things she’ll be remembered for the most – not the fancy stick work, not the flashy shots, but what’s she doing for this team and how she’s leading them,” Robertshaw added.

Tumolo won’t take any credit for the awards she receives, but her all-around skill has become evident to her coaches, teammates and now the fans in England, including players from other nations, such as Colombia, Hong Kong and the Netherlands, to whom she told at the STX tent while signing autographs after the game that “having fun is all that matters.”

While the other countries’ players were unsure of their chances advancing in the tournament, Tumolo remained a positive role model for them, encouraging them to believe in themselves that yes, “you can do it.”

“People miss cuts all the time,” Tumolo said. “There are people at home that could be on this team right now. That was me back in 2013. … I hope that every kid out there watching goes out for their dreams.”