After a year off, former Johns Hopkins defender Trinity McPherson has found a home with Denver women’s lacrosse

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In four years with Johns Hopkins women’s lacrosse, Trinity McPherson took only two shots and did not produce a goal or an assist. That’s not terribly shocking considering her primary position as a defender.

In 21 games at Denver, McPherson has scored five goals on 15 shots and added six assists. The Catonsville High graduate quipped that she’s making up for lost time.


“The amount of times I would get in front of the net and run it all the way down and give everything I had and not finish and not take that chance, I was so angry at myself,” she said. “So I think going in, this is my last year, and I do not want to leave anything in the tank. If I’m going to be in front of the goal, I’m going to freaking shoot it.”

That sentiment is welcomed heartily by McPherson’s former coach with the Blue Jays.


“For four years, I tried to get that girl to fly down the field and shoot the damn ball,” said Janine Tucker, who retired a year ago after a 29-year tenure. “Trinity is thriving, and I can tell because for her to work her way up and have that courage to get down into the offensive end and freaking put it in the cage, if I die tomorrow, I would be a happy coach.”

Denver defender Trinity McPherson runs up field during an NCAA Tournament game against Albany on Friday. McPherson has been instrumental in helping the Pioneers roll to a 21-0 record.

McPherson’s newfound abilities on offense are part of a larger set of skills she has brought to the Pioneers. She leads the team in ground balls (59) and ranks second in draw controls (60) and third in caused turnovers (36).

McPherson has been instrumental in helping Denver roll to a 21-0 record and the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Pioneers will face No. 4 seed and reigning national champion North Carolina (16-4) in a quarterfinal Thursday at 5 p.m. in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Denver coach Liza Kelly said McPherson’s versatility has helped the team’s overall improvement.

“I think she’s a very intelligent player,” she said. “She plays her angles very well and also takes educated risks on the defensive end. On draws, she’s very quick to get to ground balls and get to those draw controls, and she’s just excellent at bringing the break.”

The season already feels like a success to McPherson.

“Getting here is the icing on the cake,” she said. “I worked for 15 years, and I’m finally getting the rewards of that and finally getting to see the fruits of that, and it feels so good. It’s just been crazy. I feel like I’ve been dreaming the whole year.”

McPherson’s return to the sport involved a one-year hiatus. After graduating from Johns Hopkins in May 2021 with a bachelor’s in psychology, she spent the next 15 months trying out for the U.S. national team, working as a public relations representative for an Austin, Texas-based cybersecurity company, and volunteering with AmeriCorps via Harlem Lacrosse to coach lacrosse and counsel students at the Academy for College and Career Exploration High School in Baltimore.


“I think it was really cool being able to see both sides of it,” she said of earning a paycheck and volunteering. “But I think it also really highlighted, ‘What do I really want to do and what will provide me the most joy?’ and it was totally being in that high school every day and being able to work with those kids.”

A conversation with U.S. national team assistant coach and Army West Point coach Michelle Tumolo planted a seed in McPherson’s mind to consider using her fifth year of eligibility. After deciding in October to apply for graduate school and pursue a master’s in social work, she settled on Denver over other programs such as Northwestern.

McPherson said she chose Kelly and the Pioneers on the recommendations of Tucker and former assistant coach Tara Singleton, who is currently the coach at Jacksonville. Kelly said McPherson swiftly dismissed her initial worries about her adjustment after a one-year break.

“You’re never sure about an injury or whatever it might be for a player coming back,” she said. “But Trinity has such a great work ethic and attitude that whatever rust was there, she was able to dust it off pretty quickly.”

This spring, McPherson was one of 25 candidates for the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse’s top individual honor, and was named a first-team All-Big East Conference selection. The accolades don’t surprise Tucker.

“She’s that kind of a freak athlete,” she said. “And the one thing about Trinity is, she is not going to do something unless she is fully committed to it and her heart is fully into it. So knowing that she said yes to Coach Liza, I knew that she was going to be all-in.”


Leaving Baltimore for Denver wasn’t difficult for McPherson, who enrolled at Johns Hopkins in 2018 while the rest of her family lived in Lusaka, Zambia. But her departure did impact her younger sister Madison, who recently wrapped up her senior year as a midfielder for the Blue Jays.

“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with,” said Madison, whose team lost, 25-8, to No. 2 seed Syracuse in Sunday’s second-round game. “It’s always a challenge to be away from her because she is my best friend. So it’s definitely tough, but I really think that we’ll end up living close to one another no matter where we end up later on in life.”

Their parents, James and Rebecca McPherson, have attended a handful of Trinity’s games, including the Pioneers’ 8-7 upset of then-No. 5 Maryland on March 5 in College Park. But Trinity said they have agreed that Madison’s games should be the top priority since this was her senior year.

“If it came down to my game versus Madison’s game, then I want my parents to be there for Madison,” she said. “I don’t want to take any of that away from her.”

Unfortunately, neither parent will be there for Thursday’s quarterfinal. Rebecca McPherson, an education and youth program specialist in the U.S. State Department’s Family Liaison Office, is in Europe, and James McPherson, a public affairs officer for the department, is in language training for the week.

Madison has pledged to join her sister in Chapel Hill, but Trinity noted that the Final Four scheduled for May 26 and 28 will take place in Cary, North Carolina.


“So we’re winning this week, and we’ll be back for the Final Four, and the whole family will be there,” she promised. “That’s how it’s going to go.”

NCAA Tournament quarterfinals

Denver at North Carolina

Thursday, 5 p.m.