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Agnes Irwin midfielder Laura Pansini is Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week

The senior midfielder and captain, who had an epic junior season, is off to a fine start this spring, scoring five goals and dishing out five assists in a key 18-7 win against Central Bucks West. Last season, she came back from a torn ACL to score 60 goals, dish out 37 assists and cause 18 turnovers, receiving US Lacrosse All-American honors as well as a first team All-Delco and All-Main Line as the Owls were ranked No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 6 nationally by US Lacrosse magazine. As of March 31, she had 146 career goals at Agnes Irwin. Next spring, she will play lacrosse for Princeton University.
Q: What (to you) was your most memorable goal of your Agnes Irwin career to date? Can you describe the play, how it unfolded, and your role in it?

A: My most memorable goal was scoring the winning goal on a free position shot with 31 seconds left against Notre Dame at their field during my freshman year. Agnes Irwin hadn’t beaten Notre Dame for many years (we had lost 15-11 earlier that year). I was a little nervous, but knew I had to stay calm. The whistle blew and I went hard to goal and I blasted the ball by the Notre Dame goalie. It was an amazing feeling to have such an impact on that game as a freshman. It gave me the confidence to know that I could handle any stressful situation in the future.

Q: You came back from an ACL injury to have a great junior year. Tell us a little about the rehab. What was the most challenging part of the rehab?

A: I actually did “prehab” before I had surgery on my ACL which was so beneficial because it helped me keep the muscle in my legs. A few days post surgery I began intense physical therapy 4-5 times per week. I worked on gaining the muscle around my knee back with squatting, leg lifts and balancing exercises. Then I worked on speed and agility training as part of my rehab. The most challenging parts of my rehab were remaining disciplined and not going through the motions and also dealing with the frustration of how slow the progress was. I stayed with it and was able to get back on the field at full speed within nine months of my injury. I always say “knock on wood,” but I feel great today!

Q: You play midfielder but have also played attack. What (to you) is the most important attribute of a good midfielder? A good attacker?

A: As a midfielder it is so important to have a sense of the entire field and knowing what is going on at all times. Coach Duck’s nickname for me is QB1 because I try to involve all my teammates when I’m on offense. I would say that I love a great assist even more than I love to score a goal. It is also important for a midfielder to transition the ball well and to play solid defense.

As an attacker it is so important to be aware of where your teammates are on the field. Passing the ball to an open teammate is one of the most important things an attacker can do. Also, it is important as an attacker to make the right cuts to ball. It is easy to get lost in the constant movement of the game. So you have to make sure you are changing the speed of your cuts and really engaging that defender so you can create your shot.

Q: What has been the most memorable moment of your Agnes Irwin lacrosse career to date? Can you share with us your most vivid memory of that moment?

A: My most memorable team moment of my Agnes Irwin lacrosse career to date was winning the PAISAA Championship last year against our archrivals, Episcopal Academy. It was the first time Agnes Irwin won the PAISAA Championship, and we played the perfect “team” game.

My most memorable personal moment of my Agnes Irwin lacrosse career to date is when I scored my 100th goal last season. It was against Princeton High School and I needed three goals to reach 100. I scored a hat trick in the game and my whole team rushed onto the field to congratulate me! It was even more special because it was during my first season back after my ACL injury.

Q: You’ve worn No. 34 throughout your Agnes Irwin career. Was there a reason you chose this number? Does this number have any significance to you?

A:  I love the number because I am the third oldest (3) of four sisters (4) – thus “34”.

Q: What do you think is the best part of your game, and what are you working on most currently?

A: It is always difficult to speak positively about yourself, but I think that my ability to see the entire field and to make passes and find the open girl are probably the best parts of my game right now. As to what I am currently working on – I am always working on my complete game. Shooting, passing, transition, re-defending, defense, etc.

Q: Who have been your biggest lacrosse mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?

A: Although my dad (Michael Pansini) did not play lacrosse, he played many other sports growing up, and he played basketball in college. He has taught me so much about the game of lacrosse and has helped me raise my game immensely throughout the years. The most important thing my dad taught me was to be aware of everything that is going on around you and to look for the open player. He would always say to me, “Even if you have a shot, someone on your team may have a better shot.” The other thing he has taught me is “to only see yellow,” meaning no matter what other chaos is around me, only focus on getting that yellow ball. It applies to every situation in the game and I live by that!

Another significant lacrosse mentor has been Coach Duck (Agnes Irwin head coach Jen Duckenfield). She has been my coach for four years and she has taught me how to remain strong and confident on the field and how to be a leader. I continue to learn from her to this day.

Q: As a senior captain, describe how you see your leadership role on the team.

A: I try to lead by example. We have mostly underclassmen on the team and Coach Duck believes that we are role models for them. The younger players are always looking at you as to how you handle yourself at practice and during games. I try to always set the right example and to support the younger players in every way.

Q: What attracted you to Princeton, compared with the other colleges in the running? What do you think you’d like to major in? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?

A: Princeton has always been my dream school. I wanted to go to a school where I would get a fantastic education as well as being able to play lacrosse at a high level. And Princeton is just that. After my visits to Princeton I knew that it was the right fit for me. The sense of community and positive atmosphere was so refreshing. I loved how supportive and nice the coaches and players were on the team. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.

I have always been interested in the law field and in pursuing a career in law. Although I am not certain as to what I will major in presently, I definitely want to take advantage of the amazing courses offered at Princeton with an emphasis on a pre-law course of study.

Fun facts – Laura Pansini 

Favorite book: “The Sound and The Fury” by William Faulkner.

Favorite author: William Faulkner.

Favorite TV show: Friends.

Favorite movie: The Blind Side.

Favorite athlete: Cole Hamels.

Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Temperature by Sean Paul.

Favorite team: Philadelphia Flyers.

Favorite place to visit: Rome, Italy.

Favorite pre-game meal: “My Mom’s pasta with tomato sauce.”

Favorite color: Blue.

Your birthdate: May 14, 1998 in Philadelphia.

Your family members: Michael (Dad), Elisa (Mom), sisters Bridget, Maria and Natalie.

(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her school.)

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