The birthplace of American women’s lacrosse played host to the opening game of the 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s Championship on Wednesday evening, with Team USA defeating Canada 16-11 in front of an energetic crowd at Johnny Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University.

The nationally televised game, which aired on ESPN2, was a rematch of the previous World Lacrosse Women’s title game. Entering the fourth quarter, the United States held what looked like a comfortable 12-7 lead. But Canada scored the next three goals to cut the lead to 12-10.

Emily Parros’ goal, off a Kayla Treanor feed with 7:13 left in the game, sparked a three-goal U.S. run that essentially put the game out of reach. Team USA was led by Charlotte North, the speedy two-time former Tewaaraton Award winner, with four goals. Parros’ excellent all-around play, with two goals, an assist, three draw controls and one caused turnover, earned her Player of the Match honors.

Canada’s veteran star Dana Dobbie had three goals and an assist while her teammate Aurora Cordingley had two goals and two assists.

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The event, which is held every four years and features teams from 30 countries across the globe, was delayed for a year due to the pandemic.

Team USA is coached by Hall of Famer Jenny Levy, a Baltimore native and Roland Park Country School alumna who serves as head coach at the University of North Carolina. She is fresh off leading the Tar Heels to an undefeated season and the 2022 national title. The national team is shooting for its fourth straight world championship for the second time in its history.

But despite being a prohibitive favorite, Team USA is aiming for something that has never been done before.

No host team has ever captured the gold medal on its home soil. In 1986, and again in 2005, the U.S. lost to Australia when the event was held in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and Annapolis, respectively.

Home city of US women’s lacrosse

And there’s an added impetus to win it this year, due to the history of women’s lacrosse and its ties to Charm City, where the American women’s game originated.

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Louisa Lumsden, the headmistress of the St. Leonard’s School in St. Andrews, Scotland, was traveling in Quebec in May of 1884 when she witnessed the sport being played, stumbling across a contest between the Canghuwaya Indians and the Montreal Club.

In correspondence she sent home a few months later while traveling through New Hampshire’s White Mountains, she wrote on Sept. 6, 1884, “It is a wonderful game, beautiful and graceful. I was so charmed with it that I introduced it at St. Leonard’s.”

One of Lumsden’s former students, Rosabelle Sinclair, fell in love with the game at St. Leonard’s. Years later, as a physical education teacher at the Bryn Mawr School of Baltimore in 1926, she started the first women’s lacrosse team in the United States.

In Native American culture, the games were undertaken in a spirit of combat and symbolic warfare by the men who played it, with the victors bringing glory to their individual tribes.

Sinclair’s vision for the women’s game in America was different.

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“Lacrosse, as girls play it, is an orderly pastime that has little in common with the men’s tribal warfare version. … It’s true that the object in both the men’s and women’s lacrosse is to send the ball through the goal by means of the racket, but whereas men resort to brute strength the women depend solely on skill,” Sinclair once said.

So if you’ve ever wondered why Maryland is the center of this beautiful, fast-paced women’s game of speed and skill that was invented by Native Americans centuries ago, now you know.

Because the women’s game was birthed here, the gospel spread across the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Today, the women’s game is played in every state and in more than 30 countries. The genesis traces back to West Melrose Avenue in Roland Park.

At the 2022 World Championships, which run over the next two weeks, there are plenty of players with local ties that fans need to keep their eyes on.

Canada is led by Dobbie, the current assistant coach at Loyola University Maryland. Considered one of the top draw specialists in the history of the game, Dobbie was a two-time All-American at the University of Maryland. Also suiting up for the Canadian team is the aforementioned Cordingly, who starred at Johns Hopkins before scoring over 50 goals and notching more than 50 assists this past season as a graduate student transfer at Maryland.

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In Team USA’s third game of the tournament, on July 2 against Australia, they’ll need to account for Stacey Morlang, the former Loyola University star who set an NCAA record in 2002 with 12 goals in a single game.

Also playing for Australia is Hannah Nielsen, considered one of the game’s all-time greats. The current head coach at the University of Michigan, Nielsen is a former two-time winner of the Teewaaraton Award, in 2008 and 2009, as a player at Northwestern. In 2011 and 2012, she was an assistant coach at Towson University.

The opening round closes out on Independence Day, with a 5 p.m. game against England, which stars Laura Merrifield, who won a national championship with the Maryland Terrapins in 2011. The former first team All-American scored 128 goals during her career in College Park.

Team USA will also have its hands full with England’s Megan Whittle, the current Stanford assistant coach, who was one of the most prolific scorers in the NCAA during her career at the University of Maryland, where she still holds the school record with 298 goals. The 2018 graduate also ranks near the top of the NCAA all-time record books with an incredible 339 career points.

The U.S. National Team is led by Taylor Cummings, the sport’s only three-time winner of the Tewaaraton Award. Considered by some to be the sport’s greatest female player ever, the former four-time All-American led the Terps to two national titles.

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An alumna of the McDonough School, where she now serves as the head coach, Cummings led prep teams that lost only one game during her four years there while amassing an astounding 198-game winning streak, a national record.

If they advance out of the first round of pool play, Team USA should play in front of a jam-packed house at Unitas Stadium during the semifinals on Thursday, July 7.

The Bronze and Gold Medal games take place on Saturday, July 9.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version