My guest on today’s episode of the Lax Goalie Rat podcast is Athletes Unlimited and Pitt Alum Paulina DiFatta.
Paulina has an amazing story of perseverance after returning from three ACL injuries through her high school and college career to be named a two-time All-American and be drafted into Athletes Unlimited this past summer.
Paulina got her start in net in the 5th grade when she decided to hop in cade thanks to her previous experience playing goalie in soccer.
This was music to the ears of her coach who was struggling to find someone to step into the cage as a full-time goalie.
Once she stepped into the cage, she never left thanks to her love of the position and knowing she was the last line of defense to help her team out.
After putting together a solid freshman year in high school, DiFatta received attention from a few schools showing interest in offering her a chance to play college lacrosse.
However, she, unfortunately, suffered an ACL tear going into her sophomore year which had her second-guessing whether college lacrosse would be in her future.
Nevertheless, Paulina would preserver and recover from her injury in 7 months an unprecedented recovery time for such a serious injury.
Knowing that she still wanted to play college lacrosse she continued to reach out to coaches looking for her best opportunity and would eventually accept an offer to play at Fairfield University.
She chose Fairfield because of how close it was to home and had a great business program in finance and accounting which was her desired area of study.
Entering her freshman year though, Paulina would suffer another setback tearing her other ACL during a fall ball practice.
Despite this being a longer and more difficult recovery time Paulina would continue to stay focused and would return for her sophomore season.
She started all 20 games for the Stags program record and ranked second in Division I with 211 saves, being named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team and the MAAC All-Championship Team and most importantly winning a MAAC Championship.
After her amazing sophomore season, Paulina realized that Fairfield wasn’t the place for her long-term and would ultimately make the decision to transfer to Elon.
She loved that the head coach understood the needs of a student-athlete and prioritized the mental health of his athletes which ultimately help make her decision to join the Phoenix.
Paulina would suffer yet another torn ACL injury just four games into her first year at Elon. This time though she made the decision to grit through her injury and tape up her knee to finish the season and help out her team.
Her mental toughness paid off as she was named to the CAA All-Tournament Team and would again set a program record for most saves in a season with 160.
In her final year at Elon, DiFatta would earn USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Honorable Mention honors recording 92 saves and a .529 save percentage while leading her team to a CAA Championship game.
After graduating from Elon with a year of eligibility remaining Paulina would make the decision to transfer to Pitt to pursue a graduate degree and do something special joining the Panthers for their inaugural season.
Paulina would go on to start all 19 of Pitt’s regular season games earning her second All-American nod and setting an ACC Championship record for saves in a tournament and saves in a single game with 19 in a win over Louisville.
Lacrosse is my passion! The game has given me so much and this blog is my way of giving back to the lax community. Specifically the most bad a$$ part of that community - the goalies! After learning to play goalie from scratch, I wanted to create a site where I could share what I learned with others so they too can become champions in the crease and in life. Learn more about Coach Damon.
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