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Team Japan Defender Ai Hirose Joins WPLL Brave for 2019 Season

By Jon Bird, 05/23/19, 6:00AM EDT


Hirose Becomes First Member of Japanese Senior National Team to Play in the WPLL, Yamada Becomes WPLL Coaching Associate

The WPLL is pleased to announce that defender Ai Hirose will join the WPLL Brave this season. A member of the Japanese Senior National Team, Hirose shot onto the WPLL’s radar after a strong showing at November’s WPLL Draft Camp in Tokyo, part of WORLDCROSSE. Hirose is the first Japanese player to play in the WPLL, bringing the total number of international programs represented in the league to 9.

“I am so excited to play in the WPLL, which is the highest level league in the world, and to play lacrosse with amazing players in the US,” explained Hirose. “When I heard about the tryout at WORLDCROSSE Japan, I immediately applied. There was no reason not to challenge myself.”

A talented defender, Hirose played at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. During her senior year at Sophia University Hirose was selected to play for the Japanese U-22 National Team, helping lead Japan to an Asia Pacific Lacrosse Championship in 2015. Her successes on the U-22 team led to an invitation to play for the Japanese Senior National Team, which Hirose has been a member of since 2016. Hirose was a key member of the Japanese team that played at the 2017 FIL Rathbones World Cup, helping lead the team to a 9th place finish. In addition to her experience with Team Japan, Hirose also plays for club team NeO, winning the 2018 Japan Club Lacrosse Championship and the 2018 Japan Lacrosse National Championship. 

“We were blown away by the talent we saw at the WPLL Draft Camp in Tokyo, and Ai’s skill stood out in particular,” explained WPLL SVP Rachael DeCecco. “She is an incredibly quick and gritty defender who plays with great poise and confidence. You can’t help but notice her and respect her game. We are excited to welcome her to the WPLL, and feel that she will make an impact in the league.” “No matter how fast her player is, Ai will always be there,” explains CROSSECROSSE Director Sachiyo Yamada, who will join Ai in the United States this summer. “No matter how fast you run, or how quickly you pass, she will always be right in front of you. What she may lack in size she makes up for in speed and footwork, making her an incredible defender.” Yamada will serve as a coaching associate with the league.

Sachiyo Yamada will join Hirose in America for the 2019 WPLL Season

As the WPLL saw during their trip to Tokyo, Japanese players are taking to the game. During the WPLL vs. Team CrosseCrosse Japan game players played in an electric environment in front of a packed stadium. Team WPLL barely beat out Team CrosseCrosse Japan, earning a hard-fought 15-13 victory. Japan is one of many Asian countries with a booming lacrosse scene. An established international program, the Japanese Lacrosse Association was founded in 1987, making Japan the first Asian country with an international team. In 2017 the Japanese Women's National Team went undefeated during Pool Play at the FIL Rathbones World Cup. Japan finished the tournament in 9th place, earning an impressive final record of 7-1. A total of four Asian teams competed at the 2017 FIL Rathbones World Cup--Korea, Hong Kong, China, and Japan, and several other programs, including Taiwan and Thailand, also have an increasing lacrosse-playing population. 

Hirose becomes the third International lacrosse player to travel to the US to play in the WPLL, joining 2018 WPLL players Abbie Burgess (Australia) and Hui Ka Hei (Hong Kong). 

About the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League

Founded in 2017 by 4x All-American, and two-time World Champion Michele DeJuliis, the WPLL is a professional league made up of 125 of the top post-collegiate female lacrosse players in the world and a youth development league connecting with the top high school players in the country. For both our professional and our youth players, the WPLL prioritizes character development as a means to excel in life on and off the field. The WPLL uses lacrosse as a vehicle to provide girls with skills that allow them to not only become better athletes, but also grow into confident and brave women. Thanks to a partnership with ESPN, in 2019 fans can tune in to all regular season WPLL games on ESPN3 and the Championship on ESPNU. For more information, visit, and follow on social media:

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Twitter: @prowomenslax



ESPN media contact: Anna Negron at or 860-766-2233; @ItsAnnaNegron

WPLL Media Contact: Sam Jaffe at