Entering high school, Maura Palandro wasn't expecting to receive an athletic scholarship. After all, the York Catholic senior lacrosse player just started playing the sport in seventh grade.

"It just happened on chance. I played soccer and swam my whole life. When I came to York Catholic, one of my friends, her dad was a coach of the Shooting Irish youth league program. They said, 'Why don't you come and just try it out?'" I went to one practice, and I fell in love."

That love propelled Palandro from beginner to all-star to a Division I scholarship to Kennesaw State University in Georgia.

"It was definitely surreal. It was such a relief," Palandro said. "The recruiting process can be so tiresome and stressful. It's a long process. I couldn't have done it without my coaches and parents."

Palandro had originally verbally committed to La Salle University, but unlike others who change their committment, the move from La Salle to Kennesaw State had nothing to do with athletics and everything to do with academics.

The Irish defender wants to major in nursing and after finding out that La Salle's nursing program was on probation, Palandro reopened her recruiting.

"It had nothing to do with La Salle's lacrosse program," Palandro said. "I'm the type of a person who is a planner and likes to know in four years I can graduate and everything. I just had to make sure that academically I was doing myself justice because I take my academics as seriously, if not more than I do lacrosse. Kennesaw State is second in the state of Georgia for nursing."

She's trading an in-state university and around a two-hour drive for a nearly 12-hour trip from York to Georgia.

"Although it's far, I'm excited to make my own path, and to have my own experiences," Palandro said. "My family will always be here if I need to come back for a weekend, and it's only an hour flight."

When Palandro gets to Kennesaw State, she will be reunited with former Irish teammate Shannon Moore.

"Shannon and I have been best friends for a long time, and it's nice to have someone down there that I have known since middle school. That will definitely help," Palandro said.

After getting noticed at a club tournament in Richmond, Va., and scheduling a visit to Kennesaw State, Palandro knew right away that the Georgia school was a perfect fit.

"I completely had that feeling that this is where I should be," Palandro said.

While Moore steadied the Irish offense, Palandro has been a key cog in the back line.

"My Dad has always lived with the, 'Why not me?' motto. So if it's a free ball, why not fight for it? In lacrosse a ground ball or a draw control can make a difference in a close game. I've always had the thought that if I can get it, that's one ball that the other team cant get," Palandro said of playing defense.

Palandro doesn't need to have eye popping offensive statistics to make a statement with her play every game.

"She has the speed of a midfielder but quick feet defensively and just plays with a tenacity that no one can beat her," Irish head coach Rob Linthicum said via email. "Her greatest value on the lacrosse field is the ability to get loose balls, both draw controls and ground balls. She has led our team in every one of her three years at York Catholic in both statistical categories."

Moore and Palandro are just two of seven girls that have come through the Irish program recently and continued playing at the collegiate level.

"It was extremely inspirational to be on the field with these girls who went on to play at heavy hitting programs and always gave me a goal to strive for," Palandro said. "We have great coaches, and our leadership on our team has been strong."

Palandro will be one of those leaders this coming spring for her final season at York Catholic.

"I'm thrilled to be a part of this team. We have a strong foundation and a deep bench," Palandro said. "We only lost one senior last year. I think under the great coaching and the ability of the girls, I think we have a good chance to make a great impact."

Read or Share this story: