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Pitt hires Emily Boissoneault from JMU to lead women’s lacrosse team

The new Panthers coach helped guide the Dukes to a national title in 2018

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke announced on Friday the hiring of Emily Boissoneault as the school’s first head coach of women’s lacrosse. Boissoneault comes to Pitt from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she served as the team’s associate head coach for four years under Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe and helped guide the Dukes to a national title in 2018.

”It takes a special individual to build a program from scratch. You need someone who has great vision, relentless energy and confidence to build something unprecedented,” Lyke said in a statement. “I am excited we have found that type of person and leader in Emily Boissonneault.

”She brings to Pitt an excellent pedigree as a coach and player and knows what it takes to compete against the premier lacrosse conference in the country. Emily’s experience helping to bring a national championship to James Madison University will be invaluable. Moreover, her tremendous contacts in the sport, both across the country and internationally, will be major assets in building Pitt lacrosse into a program that will make a mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference.”

Boissonneault has been an assistant coach at James Madison since 2015, and she was promoted to the position of associate head coach in 2018. She served as the Dukes’ recruiting coordinator during her time in Harrisonburg and played a key role in assembling JMU teams that went 62-22 overall and 22-2 in the CAA and won three conference titles during her tenure.

The longtime JMU assistant was also known as a defensive-minded coach, and as such, she was tasked with overseeing a defensive unit that ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation in several key statistical categories in 2019. Specifically, the Dukes ranked seventh in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 8.6 goals per game. They also ranked 19th in average scoring margin, typically topping teams by 4.45 points; 11th in draw control percentage, which was .593; and fourth in save percentage, which was .525.

At Pitt, Boissonneault will face the rather daunting task of building a program from the ground up, but she is embracing that challenge.

”Starting a program is a unique opportunity, and I am looking forward to getting to work and building a competitive program in the ACC, the premier lacrosse conference in the country,” Boissoneault said. “Throughout the process, it quickly became clear that Pitt was the place where I wanted to be head coach. Of course, I would like to thank Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe and all of my players at James Madison for the experiences that have prepared me for this opportunity. I am proud to become a part of the Panther family and excited to join the Pittsburgh community."

Women's lacrosse is the first sport added to Pitt's varsity lineup since softball in 1997. Boissoneault and her team will officially get started in 2021.