‘Great environment’: Pitt club women’s lacrosse forges friendships through shared love of lacrosse


Image courtesy of Pitt women’s lacrosse club

Members of Pitt women’s club lacrosse pose for a photo.

By Gigi Candido, For The Pitt News

One club team, 70 women and countless memories. Pitt’s women’s club lacrosse team not only spends Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays practicing in the Pitt Sports Dome, they also go through the college experience together. 

With their season starting Feb. 26, the Lady Panthers club lacrosse team is on fire, winning two straight games and planning on winning their third. The team faces tough competition, as the Lady Panthers play against members of the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League, Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates and other varsity teams across the Division levels. 

In addition to their recent success on the field, the team was also voted best club sport team in the The Pitt News’ “Best Of” survey. Sophomore accounting major Alyssa Perrino — who won best athlete in the survey — is no stranger to competitive athletics. The New York native played three sports in high school — soccer, lacrosse and basketball. Despite mainly joining the team for her love of lacrosse, Perrino came to love the club lacrosse team because of the friends she made.

“It’s not about lacrosse in general, it’s about the girls I play with,” Perrino said. “I wanted to continue playing sports, but didn’t want my scholarship to be on the line,”

Joining the club lacrosse team enabled Perrino to meet some of her closest friends in college. She emphasized that the environment of the team encourages her to play her best, as the girls are competitive with opposing teams, but supportive to one another. 

“Great environment,” Perrino said. “[Everyone’s] supportive of each other and competitive against the other [team.]”

Some players even met their future roommates through the club. Senior psychology majors Cate Eggers and Ella Benec met through the club during their first year at Pitt. Throughout the years, the pair developed a strong friendship, leading them to become roommates.

“I met everyone in my freshman year. The best thing is that I met my closest friends,” Eggers said. “You never really know what you’re in for until you get there.” 

The team’s great chemistry follows them outside the Pitt Sports Dome. When not perfecting their lacrosse skills, the team likes to have picnics in Schenley Park or find other ways to spend time together. 

Many players came into the club with a pre-developed love of lacrosse. Eggers never even went to the club fair — she just knew she wanted to be on the club team.

“I went to the first practice. The girls and the coaches were great,” Eggers said. 

But lacrosse isn’t the only thing that unites teammates. In addition to loving lacrosse, the members also have a shared drive to excel academically.

“There’s always a lacrosse person in our classes,” Benec, a defensive player from Pittsburgh, said. “Everyone is here for academics first, then lacrosse second. Not only do the girls rely on each other for academic support, yet from their head coach as well.” 

The academic-minded team is also led by an academic-minded head coach. Kevin Tidgewell, called “Twiggy” by the team, is the head coach of the Lady Panthers. He’s an associate professor at Duquesne, where he also runs a research laboratory. His first season of coaching was in 2019, when the team won the WCLA national championship and had an undefeated 19-0 season. Before becoming head coach, he was assistant coach to previous head coach Gary Neft.

Despite focusing more on the academic and social aspects of the club, the team is still set on winning games. Eggers and Benec are both finishing out their senior year with high hopes for the season. The team won their games against Penn State and Buffalo in February and hope to continue their momentum.

Perrino, Eggers and Benec are all part of the team’s travel roster. The team traveled to Los Angeles last year to play against UCLA, which is a major rival for the team. When not practicing or playing lacrosse, they spent their time on the beach together. The team travels all across the country, also playing notable schools such as West Virginia, Ohio State, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

Ultimately, the team wants to continue their success from previous years. The team has not missed a WCLL regional tournament since 2006 and don’t plan on missing out this year.