Pittsburgh's Julia Lynch Named WCLA Division I Preseason Player of the Year


This story appears in the January 2020 edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Head to USLacrosse.org to subscribe.

Every season is a new season.

New year, new team.

There’s significant truth in those clichés, but there’s also merit in assessing a team’s potential based on the returning personnel from the previous season.

That’s why having a player like Julia Lynch, the US Lacrosse Magazine WCLA Division I Preseason Player of the Year for, gives defending WCLA champion and top-ranked Pittsburgh hope for another strong campaign in 2020.

A returning first team All-American defender, Lynch anchored the Panthers during a dominant 19-0 campaign. Pittsburgh claimed its second WCLA title with a 15-11 win over Delaware.

“She is a driving force on our defense and leads by example,” Pitt coach Kevin Tidgewell said. “It’s all dictated by her work ethic.”

That drive extends beyond lacrosse. A senior from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, Lynch also serves as the president for the Pittsburgh women’s soccer club. She often joins her lacrosse teammates for fall practice having just concluded a soccer practice. It’s not uncommon for Lynch to have soccer club practice from 6 -8 p.m., followed by lacrosse practice from 8-10 p.m.

“I love the competition,” said Lynch, a converted midfielder who chose Pitt over varsity options at other schools that recruited her. “I’m still not afraid to take the ball to the offense end when the opportunity is there.”

Despite the demands of her soccer schedule, Lynch traveled to every one of Pitt’s nine fall ball games and also attended every practice. Between the two sports, she has at least one team practice every night of the week.

“Because I love it, it’s not a chore for me,” Lynch said. “I’ve learned how to manage my time pretty well.”

As soccer club president, Lynch’s responsibilities extended beyond just showing up for practice. She scheduled the referees for all of Pitt’s home games, managed the team budget and coordinated practice planning and logistics with the team’s volunteer coach.

One of the benefits of her other duty, scheduling games, gave her some control over the two-sport overlap this past fall. She has been a member of both club teams since her freshman year.

“I was able to structure the soccer schedule around our fall ball schedule this past year,” she said.  “In past years, I had to drive by myself to a fall ball lacrosse tournament because I had to leave early to get to a soccer game on the same day.”

“Her commitment and effort serve as great examples for all of our players,” Tidgewell said.

Lynch is quick to credit the unity of her defensive teammates as a key to Pitt’s lacrosse success. The senior trio of Lynch, Emily Nutter and Liz Maisch spearhead a group that ranks among the nation’s best. The Panthers allowed fewer than five goals per game in 2019.

“We feel like our unit is something special, because we have such trust in each other,” Lynch said. “On defense, it’s all about the unit working together. Slide together. Move together. The motto is, ‘Refuse to get beat.’ We know that defense wins championships.”

Lynch’s dynamic impact is not lost on her teammates.

“She’s such a great leader for our team because she always gives it her all,” lacrosse club president Allison Macrae said. “As a teammate, you know that she’s always got your back. She’s just an incredible player.”

Despite the time demands of being a member of two club teams since her freshman year, Lynch is on track to graduate in four years with a degree in rehabilitation science. She will begin graduate studies in physical therapy at Duke next year.

Before then, she hopes to lead the Panthers on another championship run this spring.

“Our goal is the same from season to season,” Lynch said. “We want to get back to the nationals and win the championship. The bar is set pretty high.”

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