Preview | Pitt women’s lacrosse set to improve in second-ever season


Hannah Wilson | Assistant Visual Editor

Pitt women’s lacrosse team prepares to play Duquesne at Highmark Stadium in September 2021.

By Mason Carter, Staff Writer

Pitt’s women’s lacrosse team is ready to build on their progress from last year and establish themselves as a solid program. Last season, the Panthers team finished with an overall record of 9-10, including a 1-7 record in ACC conference play. 

In the opening round of the ACC tournament, the Panthers beat Louisville 13-10, capturing their first postseason victory in their inaugural season. With their 2023 slate quickly approaching, the lacrosse team has a great chance at improving on last season’s performance.

Players and head coach Emily Boissonneault need to continue to gain experience if the program wants to succeed. A full season of play in the toughest conference for women’s lacrosse proved valuable for the team, as navigating their way through the peaks and valleys of a full season is a great learning experience. Now that most of these players have that full season under their belt, they should feel more comfortable and confident in their play.

But experience was not the only strength that will carry over from last year, as the team made considerable efforts with building chemistry in 2022. Last season’s roster was composed mainly of graduate transfers and first-years. Building chemistry among this young group of players was a main focus for last season, allowing them to showcase it this season on the field. 

Newly named sophomore captain Abby Thorne believes there is already a noticeable improvement in team chemistry compared to the start of the season last year.

She cites the opportunity to “build that foundation with the girls that we’re going to be with for the next three years,” Thorne said. “The intensity and the work ethic that we have been practicing at already is just beyond what we had last year.” 

Pitt demonstrated its improved chemistry when it won all three of its fall scrimmages against Akron, Youngstown State and Duquesne.

Competing in the ACC conference will be helpful too, providing consistent quality opponents for the team to play. Last season, Pitt took some of the top-ranked teams in the country down to the wire. The team fought hard at Virginia Tech, but lost by one goal in overtime.

The Panthers then managed to hang tight against No.7 Duke, only losing by one goal. They also managed to keep close with the 2021 National Champion and 2022 National Runner-Up Boston College, losing by seven goals after a halftime tie. 

The team’s two total conference wins both came against Louisville, once in the regular season and the ACC tournament. But the rough conference performance is justified, as the ACC has produced seven of the last nine national champions in women’s lacrosse, dominating the sport.

With the departure of 14 graduates last season, the Panthers will need to look for new faces to make some plays this upcoming season. But it will all start with newly named team captains graduate student Molly Carter, senior Camdyn O’Donnell and sophomore Abby Thorne. 

O’Donnell is a transfer from San Diego State University, who finished second on her team in points with 50, while also posting 33 goals and 17 assists. She also comes in at No. 3 in school history for goals in a game with seven against Marquette. 

Carter was a member of the team last year, but missed the entire season due to an injury. While at Syracuse, she totaled 35 points from 16 goals and 19 assists in her 29 career games. 

Thorne started all 19 games on defense for the Panthers, proving to be a consistent piece. She ranked third on the team in ground balls with 28 and caused turnovers at 16. Other than these established pieces, the Panthers will need young players to step up in the new campaign. 

With all this in mind, the Panthers can continue to improve in 2023. But fans should still avoid high expectations. This is a growing program in just its second year, competing in the toughest conference in the sport. The potential is there, but it could still take a few more seasons to come together.