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, including regular season and ACC Championship wins over Louisville.

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 received 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 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 a gold medal and five silver medals as a player and serving as assistant coach.

Prior to accepting the Pitt job, Boissonneault spent the previous 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. She followed this up in the summer of 2022, leading the red and white to a silver at the World Championships and a gold at The World Games.

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 40 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.

Hicklen's first season assisting the Panthers, she helped lead the team to 9 wins in their inaugural season and saw starting goalie Paulina DiFatta record an historic season. Difatta set 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 as an IWLCA All-Region Second Team performer. She was drafted to the Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse League for July 2022. Difatta also earned Second Team All-ACC honors.

Hicklen came to Pittsburgh after spending a year at George Washington as the Defensive Coordinator and goalie coach. The Towson, Md., native was also a member of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL) Brave out of Baltimore, Maryland and playled a season with Athletes Unlimited. Prior to her professional career, Hicklen was a standout goalie at the University of Florida.

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.

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.

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Jaclen Moxley

Jaclen Moxley joined the Pitt lacrosse coaching staff in August 2023 as an assistant coach.

Moxley comes to Pitt after spending the previous two seasons at Northwestern University as the Director of Player Development. She worked closely with the student-athletes, coaches and support staff and especially coaching the offense and draw teams, contributing to the Wildcats’ 2023 National Championship.

The Northwestern staff was named the 2023 IWLCA National Coaching Staff of the year. The Wildcats’ offense scored 373 goals, recorded 177 assists and nabbed 359 draw controls. Northwestern scored the most goals, most goals per game (16.95) and had the individual (Izzy Scane) with the most goals (99) and goals per game (4.95) as well. The Wildcats had the thirteenth-best draw control percentage in the country (.572) and the fourth-most draw controls collectively (359). Their 16.32 draw controls per game was good for eleventh in the country.

Her first year in Evanston, Moxley was a volunteer assistant, contributing to the defense and draw teams on their way to a Final Four appearance.

In 2022, Northwestern held opponents to 11.76 goals per game and grabbed 383 draw controls under Moxley’s tutelage. The Wildcats .595 percentage on the draw placed them sixth nationally, while also recording 18.24 DC per game (third) and 383 overall (first).

Before joining the Northwestern staff, Moxley was the graduate assistant at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. She coached the DIII program on offense, midfield and the draw, ranked 11th nationally during the season.

Moxley graduated from The Ohio State University and played on the lacrosse team from 2016-2020, as a draw specialist and attacker. She was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and got her degree in exercise science.

In addition to collegiate experience, Moxley has been working for TRUE lacrosse for the last 2 years in Chicago and worked for Resolute Lacrosse in Columbus the six years prior.

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