The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Opinion | Stop canceling flawed characters
Opinion | Stop canceling flawed characters
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • 12:09 am
Column | Blake Hinson has pro potential
By Aidan Kasner, Staff Writer • February 29, 2024
Women’s History Month event roundup
By Ryleigh Lord, News Editor • February 29, 2024

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Opinion | Stop canceling flawed characters
Opinion | Stop canceling flawed characters
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • 12:09 am
Column | Blake Hinson has pro potential
By Aidan Kasner, Staff Writer • February 29, 2024
Women’s History Month event roundup
By Ryleigh Lord, News Editor • February 29, 2024

Pitt women’s lacrosse looks to build a legacy in its third season

Graduate+student+defender+Brittney+Villhauer+%2825%29+yells+during+Pitt+women%E2%80%99s+lacrosse%E2%80%99s+game+against+Duke+at+Highmark+Stadium+on+March+26%2C+2023.
Kaylee Uribe | Staff Photographer
Graduate student defender Brittney Villhauer (25) yells during Pitt women’s lacrosse’s game against Duke at Highmark Stadium on March 26, 2023.

As Phil the Groundhog failed to see his shadow last Friday, spring is closer than ever, and Pitt spring sports are just around the corner. Including Pitt lacrosse

Pitt lacrosse begins its third season at Highmark Stadium playing against Duquesne on Friday, Feb. 9. Pitt lacrosse is the newest NCAA Division 1 program at Pitt. The program debuted for its inaugural season in 2021 after it was added as a varsity sport in 2020. 

Last season, the Panthers failed to achieve the level of success they had hoped for. The ACC is very competitive for women’s lacrosse, and the team finished the season with an overall record of 4-13 with zero wins in conference play. This led the Panthers to fall in the first round of the ACC tournament. 

Now, the experience under players’ belts will contribute to their success in such a challenging conference. The Panthers have 30 returning players from last season’s squad.

Senior Abby Thorne, a team captain, leads the Panthers’ defense. She is originally from Australia and represented the Australian national team at the 2019 Women’s Lacrosse U19 World Championships in Peterborough, Canada, earning bronze. Throughout her time as a Panther, she has caused 16 turnovers and had 28 ground balls. 

Junior midfielder Jill Fenech, also a team captain, returns to the team and is a key contributor to the success of the Pitt lacrosse team. The junior midfielder has had a lot of success at the draw line, winning 59 draw controls and securing 24 ground balls. Additionally, she is effective at the net, with seven goals and two assists in the 2023 season. 

On the offensive side of the ball, fifth-year senior and captain Camdyn O’Donnell had 21 goals and six assists last season. It is only her second season with Pitt after transferring from San Diego State, but she has made a significant impact on this young team.

Along with returning players, the Panthers have eight newcomers and three transfers who are new additions to the roster this season. 

Natalie Calandra-Ryan, a junior transfer from Youngstown State, was named MAC Offensive Player of the Week four times in her first two seasons playing college lacrosse and also earned 2022 Mac Freshman of the Year. Calandra-Ryan earned a name on the All-MAC First and Second Teams in 2023 and 2022, respectively.

Calandra-Ryan has already achieved her 100th career goal in the 28 games she has played so far. This season, she will play a significant role in the Panthers’ offense.

As such a new program, Pitt lacrosse has yet to make it to the ACC network. However, that all changes this season when the Panthers have their ACC network debut on Saturday, March 23, against Virginia Tech. 

Additionally, the Panthers have nine home games this season. Out of these games, the Panthers host five ACC matchups — Boston College, Louisville, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Clemson. 

Although it is another challenging season within the ACC for women’s lacrosse, the Panthers are a more experienced and exciting team this season. 

Head coach Emily Boissonneault, an experienced coach with a track record of building lacrosse programs from the ground up, is the leader of this team. Boissonneault’s history includes coaching James Madison to three Colonial Athletic Association Conference Championships, four NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2018 National Championship. 

Despite the program being built from the ground up just a few years ago, the Panthers are ready to make history in Pitt Athletics. 

With more promotional dates and themes than ever before, Pitt is hoping to attract as many students to Highmark Stadium as possible.

On Friday, Feb. 9, the Panthers kick off their season at Highmark at 4 p.m. against Duquesne.

About the Contributor
Lily Peters, Staff Writer
Lily Peters is a sports staff writer for The Pitt News. She is a part of the College of General Studies class of 2027 and is majoring in Media and Professional Communications. Additionally, she is pursuing a certificate in Television and Broadcast Arts.