(Jan. 23, 2015) In less than two months, Stephen Decatur senior Jillian Petito will step on the lacrosse field to begin her final season competing for the Berlin high school.
“I’m really excited about that. I think we’re going to do really well this year,” Petito said on Nov. 25 when she officially announced that she plans to play Division I lacrosse for Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md. “Last year we made it to the state semifinals so hopefully this year we make it even further.”
Petito, Maryland’s female winner in the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award competition where students are judged on their academic achievements, community service, leadership and athletic accomplishments, has been playing lacrosse for about 11 years. When she first started, Petito was a field player. Around the fourth grade, Petito said she began playing in the goal.
The 17-year-old not only competes for Decatur, but she also plays travel ball for the Sea Bay Lacrosse Club.
Petito said she chose Mount St. Mary’s because she loved the mountains and area surrounding the campus, as well as the school.
“It’s really beautiful and I wanted a small school because you get to know everyone. I like the sense of community the school has. Everyone really helps each other out. It’s like a community basically,” she said. “I like that it’s not too far away – it’s only three and a half hours – so my parents can come and watch my games and I can go home if I need to on the weekends.”
Petito committed to Mount St. Mary’s about a year ago, in January of her junior year, and she received a scholarship.
“It was a cool feeling. Committing definitely took a lot of pressure off me,” she said. “I didn’t have to stress when everybody else is stressing about college. It was really a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Petito met several Mount St. Mary’s lacrosse players and she thought the girls were nice. She also got to watch a game and practice. After her experience, Petito felt she would fit in well.
She plans to major in accounting.
“I hope that I’m able to maintain a good GPA in college so my academics stay high as they are, and in sports, hopefully I’m able to become a better lacrosse player and show that out on the field,” Petito said.
Division I college lacrosse is a year-round commitment, but Petito thinks she will be able to balance school and athletics.
“I played three sports throughout high school so I’ve always been able to maintain sports and academics,” she said.
“She’ll do very well in college. She knows when to speak up and when to hold her tongue and how to make things happen,” Decatur lacrosse Coach Bob Musitano said. “She’s athletic, she leads by example, she’s very fast and she can come out of the cage when she wants to. She knows how to play the position very well.”
Petito wrapped up her fourth soccer season competing for Decatur in October. A team captain, she led the Lady Seahawks with 26 goals and 12 assists.
Petito was named team MVP and received First Team All-Bayside Conference honors. She is currently in her fourth season playing basketball for Decatur.
“I just want to thank my parents for everything that they’ve done for me,” Petito said. “They’ve always been so supportive of me. They came to all of my games, drove me to practices and they’ve put a lot of time and effort in order to help me reach this goal [of playing in college].”