Christine Masolo must learn the Italian national anthem. This may be your biggest challenge at the Women’s World Championships in Lacrosse this week.
On the court, Masulo shouts a mixture of English and Italian. Although born and raised in New Jersey, Masullo is the goalkeeper for the Italian national team. It’s trying to channel Italian defenders into a game designed by Native Americans, using language that isn’t entirely clear to anyone.
Maybe it’s fitting for Masulo, 30, who came to lacrosse late — and didn’t dare try to keep playing after college.
Masulo grew up playing football, basketball, and softball in Berkeley Heights. She was a soccer goalkeeper, and tried lacrosse in the eighth grade. Prior to her first year at Governor Livingston, the lacrosse team needed a goalkeeper. Masulo’s mother filled out two healthy physical forms, one for softball “because it’s all I’ve ever known,” and one for lacrosse.
Delivered in lacrosse format.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if I switched into lacrosse and got a scholarship for it? We laughed,” said Masulo, a physical education and health teacher at Roxbury High School.
Masulo never played lacrosse, and sent out the game tapes on a whim. But she did get a scholarship offer from NCAA Division I Liberty University. She graduated as Flames’ all-time save leader (675) after starting 69 of 71 games. Masullo ranked top five in total saves among the D-1 goalkeepers as a freshman and sophomore.
Masullo has a major in science with a minor in psychology. She trained at Lafayette College and Quinnipiac, then came home coaching soccer, basketball, and lacrosse at Hillsborough High School, coaching a lacrosse club, and working out at a couple of gyms — until the COVID pandemic gave her an opportunity to “be present in the moment.”
Masullo had heard about the Italian national team at LaxCon five or six years ago. But even though she was still coaching college players, Masulo didn’t think she could play again.
“With the World Cup approaching, things for Team USA have appeared in the news feed of two of my friends,” she said. “The Italian thing was in the back of my head. Is this my chance? What if? I was sent to the Italy team.”
Assistant coach Lindsey Colveray was so interested that she called Masulo while driving on I-95 to see if she wanted to travel to Italy for a summer training camp.
Masolo has devoted much of her vacation time to the Italian national team over the past two years. Italy hosted the European Lacrosse Federation Championship in March, mostly during spring break in Roxbury.
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Back home, Masullo coaches freshmen and sophomore Roxbury boys, and works with all male goalkeepers. Sometimes, after a workout, guys will call it a faster ball on one plane.
“You must want to make it work…I’ve done it ten times over,” said Colveray. “She gives more than 150 percent of herself to these girls. She is a coach on the field. She understands the level and brings everyone in. She brings energy. She is very competitive. That’s what you want when it’s a whole new sport.”
Although Masolo’s grandparents are from Naples, she is one of three players on the World Cup roster without an Italian passport. Italians or dual nationals hold the other 15 spots on the list.
The Italian game is growing on its own
The Italian players are scheduled to meet in New York City on June 24, before boarding a train to Baltimore and moving into the dorms at Towson University. They will train for three days, before the World Cup opening ceremony on June 29.
Italy’s No. 11-ranked team begins play on June 30 against the No. 10 Czech Republic. Pool play continues against Sweden, Mexico and Colombia – four matches in as many days.
The top two teams in each group advance to the winners’ category in the two-week tournament.
Masulo was estimated to have played against nine of the 30 World Cup teams. Hope to represent Italy at the 2026 Olympics.
But along the way, game development is key. Girls’ sport is not very popular in Italy, and football is king.
“I am part of the history of Italy,” said Masulo. “I’m building a foundation for future generations. I’ve always dreamed of playing on a bigger scale. It would be a great platform to help people and grow something. It’s just a matter of opportunity it looks like. Sport has given me so much. The least I can do is give back in any way I can.”