University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh Athletics
4200 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 152130436
Division 1 Pennsylvania Northeast
Public Large Competitive team


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Emily Boissonneault

The University of Pittsburgh announced it was adding women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport Nov. 1, 2018 and saw Emily Boissonneault as an impactful leader who embodies the spirit of the City of Champions to build the program. Boissonneault was tabbed as the first head coach in Pitt lacrosse history on Friday, June 29, 2019.

In the 2021 season, Boissonneault coached the team into an overall record of 9-10. The Panthers fell to all but one(Louisville) in their conference ending their season with a conference record of 1-7.

Paulina Difatta, Boissonneault's goalie, had an impactful season, setting ACC Championship records for saves in a tournament and saves in a single game. Difatta was named Inside Lacrosse All-American Honorable Mention and earned her spot on IWLCA All-Region Second Team performer. She was drafted to Team Glynn (blue) for week one of the Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse League for July 2022.

Four Panthers were named to the 2022 All-ACC team after their 2021-22 season. Paige Petty and Paulina Difatta earned Second Team All-ACC honors, while freshman Jill Fenech and Dylana Williams were named to the All-Freshman Team.

Petty recirved all-conference honors for her fourth time in her career, after leading the Panthers in goals(40), points (49), and draw controls (65). She was invited to compete at The World Games in Birmingham, Ala. along with head coach Emily Boissonneault, assistant coach Haley Hicklen, and Abby Thorne.

Boissonneault came to the Panthers with a track record of excellence as a coach and player as well as significant experience in building programs from scratch.

In addition to her achievements in the world of college lacrosse, Boissonneault is also heavily involved on the international stage helping Team Canada to four silver medals as a player and serving as assistant coach with the Team Canada U19 National Team at the 2019 World Championship in Peterborough, Canada.

Prior to accepting the Pitt job, Boissonneault spent the past four seasons at James Madison (2016-19) helping guide the Dukes to three Colonial Athletic Association [CAA] Conference Championships, four NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2018 National Championship. She was hired as an assistant coach with the JMU lacrosse program in July 2015 and was promoted to associate head coach in July 2018. Boissonneault was primarily responsible for running JMU's defensive unit and also served as the program's recruiting coordinator.

JMU reached four consecutive NCAA Championships, which included winning the 2018 National Championship, with Boissonneault on the sidelines. She helped lead the Dukes to a 62-22 (.738) record, including an impressive 22-2 (.917) mark in CAA play. JMU won three CAA championships and posted a 5-3 mark in NCAA Tournament play over the her four seasons with the program.

In 2019, James Madison posted a 16-4 record, including a 6-0 mark in CAA play, and finished 15th in the final IWLCA Coaches Poll. JMU had three players earn IWLCA All-Region accolades in first team honoree Caroline Sdanowich and second team members Molly Dougherty and Maddie McDaniel. Sdanowich was additionally a top-25 nominee for the Tewaaraton Award and voted CAA Defensive Player of the Year, while Dougherty was CAA Goalkeeper of the Year.

The Dukes ranked fourth nationally in save percentage (.525) and seventh in scoring defense (8.6). They were also 11th in draw control percentage (.593) and 19th in scoring margin (+4.45). JMU allowed fewer than 10 goals in a game 15 times in 2019.

In 2018, the Dukes won a school record 16 regular season games and after capturing the CAA tournament title was awarded the No. 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament. JMU earned NCAA wins against Virginia, No. 6 Florida and No. 2 North Carolina before fending off No. 4 Boston College to win the National Championship. The Dukes finished the season 22-1 overall, including a 6-0 record against teams out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Haley Warden, JMU's leading defensive midfielder, became the first player in program history to win both CAA Player of the Year (2017) and CAA Defensive Player of the Year (2018) while earning All-America accolades. Defender Rebecca Tooker was an honorable mention All-America selection while she and Caroline Sdanowich were tabbed All-CAA honorees in 2018.

In 2017, JMU was 10th nationally in scoring defense (8.95). JMU also ranked 14th in caused turnovers (10.95). They allowed nearly 1.5 fewer goals from 2016 to 2017 and also had improvements of 3.7 more caused turnovers and almost 5.5 more ground balls per game between years one and two.

The Dukes held opponents to seven goals or less in 10 games and five or fewer in five outings. In the first round of the 2017 NCAA Championship, JMU limited Louisville to only six goals to earn the program's first NCAA victory since 2010.

In her inaugural year in 2016, she helped Caroline Sdanowich make the CAA All-Rookie Team as JMU earned an at-large bid for the NCAA Championship.

Boissonneault began her collegiate coaching career at Winthrop in 2013, where she served as an assistant coach for three years. During the 2015 season, she helped coach the Eagles to a Big South Championship title and the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. While at Winthrop, she focused on offensive technique and the team's conditioning program. Her duties also included managing weekly practice hours and cutting game and practice film. She also took part in recruiting and meeting with potential players.

Her coaching career began at the club level, where she operated as head coach for the Bloomfield Hills Lacrosse club from 2010-2012 and for the Oshawa Lady Blue Knights under-15 women's field lacrosse team in 2014.

The Ontario native still plays internationally, as she was a member on the 2013 and 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Cup Canadian National Team, as well as the 2017 World Games in Poland. Boissonneault helped guide Team Canada to the silver medals in all three tournaments, marking the best international finishes in Canada's lacrosse history.

Boissonneault also played professionally for the Boston Storm of the United Women's Lacrosse League (UWLX).

During her four-year college career at Detroit Mercy, Boissonneault finished with 242 goals, 193 ground balls, 157 caused turnovers and 143 draw controls. Her name is etched in the NCAA lacrosse record books as she ranks in the top 20 in career caused turnovers, caused turnovers per game and career goals. She was named Attacker of the Year for the National Lacrosse Conference in 2009 and Horizon League Woman of the Year in 2012.

Boissonneault was inducted into the Detroit Mercy Athletics Hall of Fame in November of 2019.

Boissonneault graduated from Detroit in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in English and Special Education. She went on to receive her master's degree in Sport and Fitness Administration from Winthrop in 2015.

She and her four younger siblings are all involved in the game. Her sister, Jack, is a Virginia Tech graduate (2015) and was a member of the Hokies' women's lacrosse team.

Boissonneault has experience helping build programs as she was a part of Detroit's inaugural season of women's lacrosse as a player and was an assistant coach at Winthrop in the first season of play. She has guided programs to success at each stop in her career and is well prepares with the poise, confidence, and commitment to do the same at Pitt.

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Haley Hicklen

Haley Hicklen joined the Pitt lacrosse coaching staff in July 2020 as an assistant coach.

Hicklens second season assisting in coaching the Panthers, she helped led the team to 9 wins in their overall season.

Hicklen comes to Pittsburgh after spending the last year at George Washington as the Defensive Coordinator and Goalie Coach. The Towson, Md., native is also a current member of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL) Brave out of Baltimore Maryland. Prior to her professional career, Hicklen was a standout goalie at the University of Florida.

Hicklen was drafted to the Brave in 2019 and appeared in five games as the team went of the capture the WPLL Championship title that year.

The goalie also spent time with Sky Walkers Lacrosse Program in Baltimore working with the defensive and goalies. Hicklen has also worked numerous Division I summer camps over the years.

While at Florida, Hicklen accumulated an impressive list of honors and awards, as well as records within the program. Hicklen was a three-time Tewaaraton nominee, IWLCA Second Team All-American, 2019 American Athletic Conference (AAC) Goalkeeper of the Year, two-time Big East Goalkeeper of the Year.

Hicklen is Florida’s all-time leader in saves (566), groundballs (197), and minutes played for a goalie (3866:17). Through her final three seasons, she started 62 all games. The Gators made trips to the NCAA tournament all four years Hicklen was on the squad.

Hicklen graduated from the University of Florida in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability and the Built Environment with a minor in Landscape Architecture.

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Gregg Gebhard

Gregg Gebhard joined the Pitt Lacrosse staff in July of 2021 after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech.

“Gregg is an outstanding coach who I have known for a long time,” said head coach Emily Boissonneault. “His experience both as a head coach and as an assistant coach in the ACC will be invaluable as we enter our inaugural season of competition. His passion and knowledge for the game is impressive. He brings something different to our team and will help balance our staff. We are looking forward to the fall when we get our full team here on campus and can begin building towards the upcoming season of Pitt Lacrosse.”

A 14-year head coaching veteran, Gebhard joined the Virginia Tech staff in 2017 with 18 years of overall coaching experience. While working primarily with the offensive unit, he helped four-time All-America selection and current Pitt grad transfer Paige Petty rewrite the Virginia Tech record books. Petty finished her career with the Hokies ranked among the program leaders in points scored (T-1st - 227), goals (1st - 204) and draw controls (4th - 241), while starting 62 of 63 career games. The Bernardsville, N.J., native holds school records for career points, career goals, goals in a season and points in a season.

This past season, Petty ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in goals (2.80 gpg.), shots (7.00 spg.) and draw controls (3.73 dcpg.). She finished the year with 45 points on 42 goals and three assists to go along with 56 draw controls.

In 2020, the offense ranked 19th nationally with a 14.8 scoring average and featured two players, Kayla Frank and Petty who featured in the top 10 nationally in scoring. Virginia Tech was the only team in the nation to have three individuals score 20 or more goals, with Emma Crooks joining Frank and Petty in that group.

The 2018 season saw two players; Tristan McGinley (48 goals) and Petty (58 goals) earn first team All-ACC recognition in 2018, with Petty also garnering All-America honors.

A part of the program's turnaround during the 2017 season, Gebhard helped groom the team that won 11 games for the first time since 1999, including two ACC victories. The 2017 squad also set records for goals and points scored.

Gebhard joined John Sung as a volunteer assistant at Winthrop in the spring of 2016 season before Sung accepted the head coaching post with the Hokies.

In July of 2011, Gebhard began a five-year stint as the head coach at St. Francis [Pa.], his first Division I head coaching position. He still holds the record for career victories with the Red Flash. Before SFU, Gebhard began the lacrosse program at Wheeling Jesuit for the 2011 campaign.

Gebhard served as an assistant coach at Ohio State for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, where he helped lead the Buckeyes to a program-record 14.8 goals per a game in 2009.

In 2003, Gebhard took the head coaching job at Greensboro College. In four seasons, he led the team to two regular-season conference championships and one tournament conference championship. He left the team with a 36-28 (19-3 USA South Conference) record. While at Greensboro, he coached 22 All-USAS Conference players, 17 All-American USAS selections and two All-American regional selections.

As a 1998 graduate of Pfeiffer University, Gebhard remained with the university, as he accepted his first head coaching job for the women’s lacrosse program. He stayed at Pfeiffer for four years, tallying record of 19-24. Within four years of the program becoming a varsity sport, he led the team to its first national ranking.

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