Pictured fighting off a Westwood defender during last season's Division I South playoffs, Needham's Kristina Pisano (right) committed to play Division I lacrosse at Wagner College this past week. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Those who follow or are apart of Needham High School athletics have become very familiar with the Pisano family throughout the last decade.
The family's oldest sibling, Robbie, graduated from Needham High School in 2013, where he was a three-year letter-winner in both football and lacrosse. Robbie helped the Rockets to three Bay State Conference lacrosse titles. Pisano went on to play lacrosse at Marquette University, where he majored in corporate communications. He recorded six goals and two assists throughout his four years with the Golden Eagles. Robbie now serves as an assistant coach for Boston University women's lacrosse.
Robbie's younger brother, Nick, is currently a senior at Needham High School and is committed to Bryant to play lacrosse. As a junior 2021, Pisano led the Rockets in scoring and helped Needham to the Bay State Conference Tournament championship. Nick was named a Bay State Conference All-Star.
This past week, Nick's twin sister, Kristina, committed to play Division I lacrosse at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York.
"The general feeling of committing to play a Division I sport is honestly just insane excitement and achievement," said Pisano when asked to describe the feeling of making a Division I commitment. "I put so much into getting to this point. I’ve played Mass Elite for about five years. I’ve trained at Compete Strength and Conditioning for about five or six years as well, and I put in four days a week of early morning training during the summer. I put in the time outside of practice and just really wanted to get to that point of committing to play D1 for myself, and once I finally reached that goal I have never felt as much excitement, and honestly relief, that I actually did it. I reached a major goal of mine."
"I'm so happy for her," said twin brother Nick when asked about his sister's commitment. "She worked so hard for it. My brother, my parents and I are so excited for Kristina."
Like all high school athletes trying to get recruited throughout the past two years, COVID-19 made it difficult for Kristina Pisano to get college looks. Thankfully, the return to play during the 2020 summer club season, as well as the high school spring and summer club 2021 seasons, allowed Pisano a chance, and with that chance she took advantage.
"COVID had a huge impact on my recruiting process," said Pisano. "I, along with the entire class of 2022, missed the most important summer of our lacrosse careers [sophomore going into junior year], where we would have gotten the most exposure of any point in time for lacrosse. The summer of 2020 offered exposure for prospective athletes, including myself, in the form of film and highlight videos, which makes the process of getting looks super hard. Collegiate coaches want to watch players in person rather than on film because film can only show so much. The loss of that summer forced me to have to play at my best at all times during the fall of 2020 and also this summer of 2021. All of the coaches were having double the amount of recruits to look at this summer because it was the first time they could see us play in person since the fall of 2019."
So how did Kristina Pisano end up at Wagner? She says the hard work she put in on the field and in the classroom -- as well as the film she and her coaches put out -- got the school's attention.
"Wagner reached out to me and had seen my film and watched me play," said Pisano. "[They] asked if I wanted to have a phone call with them. I had my first phone call with assistant coach Sarah Willard, and I had the most amazing time on the phone with her. After my first phone call I knew Wagner was somewhere I would enjoy spending my next four years. Phone calls are usually extremely nerve-racking but coach Willard made me feel so comfortable and I found myself hanging up and thinking 'that was really fun.' I could not wait to talk to her again, and after that phone call I had a Zoom [call] with all three coaches, including head coach Kelly McPartland. I had the best time on the Zoom and loved the coaching staff.
"I had another Zoom with some girls on the team and went on an unofficial visit in September. The second I got onto campus I knew I wanted to go there. The campus is beautiful and is perfect for me. It’s down the road from the ferry to New York City and the area of Staten Island feels like home to me because it’s super Italian, which my family is also. The streets around me reminded me of my Nonno’s street, the street I spent my early childhood on. I toured the whole campus, had a meeting with the coaches again, met some of the girls in person, watched practice, and committed right after. I absolutely love the school, coaching staff, and my future teammates. I can not express how welcoming my future coaches were and how at home I felt when I got onto campus. I just had the feeling that this is where I am meant to be and this is where I’m going to make the best friends and teammates I’ve had so far. I am not totally set on what I am going to major in yet, but I think it will be either Nursing or Health Sciences. The best part about this all is that one of our biggest rivals happens to be Bryant, so Nicholas and I will be seeing a lot of each other after all."
The Bryant vs. Wagner rivalry will certainly make for some fun banter throughout the coming years for the Pisano family. With Kristina's commitment, the Pisano family is now a perfect three-for-three with all of its siblings set to play, or having already played, Division I lacrosse. As one can imagine, the competitive drive in the Pisano household is high. Kristina says the competitive mindset she and her siblings share allow them all to push one another. The result seems to be pretty well worth it.
"The competitiveness in my family is absolutely ridiculous," joked Pisano. "Everything is a competition, especially with Nicholas. Between working out, how many points the other got in a game and even things like who’s made better food, we all basically treat life as a competition. Robbie playing Division I lacrosse inspired Nicholas and I to want to play at the next level at a young age. We definitely all feed off of each other. I think Nicholas 100 percent makes me a better lacrosse player and athlete in general. He helps keep me in check and he also helps me with his own experiences as I am starting to make the transition from playing primarily defense to the midfield position. We all push each other to be the best we can be, and I think that my development process would be extremely different if I didn’t have the drive and support that I got from my brothers. They supported and believed in me throughout my entire process, even when I was being negative and wanted to give up. They always knew that I’d make it to this point. I also have a great form of support and can get a lot of advice from my very-soon-to-be sister-in-law, Amanda, who also played Division I lacrosse with Robbie at Marquette. She offered just as much support and help to me as my brothers did. I’m so thankful for them and for how much they push me to do the best I can at all times."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.