'Good' is Not Good Enough for East Stroudsburg's Emily Mitarotonda

PHOTO COURTESY OF NCAA PHOTOS

Emily Mitarotonda already ranks among East Stroudsburg’s all-time scoring leaders with 137 goals and 171 points.


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She may be a two-time All-American, but East Stroudsburg’s Emily Mitarotonda knows that there’s always room for improvement.

If she didn’t believe that, there would be no rational reason to work as hard as she does.

“I never think that I’m the best, so it’s important to keeping working to get better,” said Mitarotonda, USA Lacrosse Magazine’s Division II Women’s Preseason Player of the Year. “There are so many good players out there.”

In addition to organized team practices, Mitarotonda’s fall afternoons are spent working one-on-one with assistant coach Rachel Ward, or individually with shooting practice and conditioning work. Every rep counts.

Ask her about the specific areas for improvement, and she is quick to start the list.

“Shot selection, driving to goal with my off-hand, making good decisions, adjusting to the defense,” she recites.

Even with these perceived holes in her game, there’s not much that Mitarotonda, now a junior, hasn’t achieved through her first two college seasons.

She already ranks among East Stroudsburg’s all-time scoring leaders with 137 goals and 171 points. She is coming off a massive 2022 season in which she set school records for goals and points and finished among the nation’s scoring leaders. And she has been tabbed as an All-America midfielder in each of her first two campaigns as the Warriors have made back-to-back final four appearances.

“She just puts in the work,” ESU coach Xeni Barakos-Yoder said. “She’s always grinding. She holds herself to a very high standard.”

It's hard to understand how much higher she can raise the bar.

Mitarotonda’s impact was immediate upon joining the Warriors’ program. As a freshman in 2021, she started all 16 games as ESU earned its second-ever final four berth. The PSAC’s freshman of the year saved her best for the big stage, scoring 13 of her 48 goals that year in three NCAA Tournament games, including a game-high six goals in the 17-14 national semifinal loss against Queens.

She was named to the national All-America second team that season, the only freshman among the 32 players on the IWLCA’s first and second teams. She was just getting started.

As a sophomore last year, Mitarotonda was named to both the IWLCA and USA Lacrosse Magazine All-America first teams and finished with a program-record 89 goals and 111 points. She also led the Warriors with 104 draw controls.







Against PSAC-rival West Chester in the Atlantic Region championship game, Mitarotonda tallied the overtime game-winner — her seventh goal of the game — to secure ESU’s second straight trip to the final four.

She then led the Warriors with four goals in the national semifinal win over undefeated Queens, and three goals in the 11-9 championship game loss against UIndy, becoming the first ESU player named to the NCAA All-Tournament team more than once.

Falling just shy of the national championship last year has only served to further stroke Mitarotonda’s passion and work ethic.

“She’s extremely hungry for more after last season,” Barakos-Yoder said.

That same attitude helped Mitarotonda to become a two-time All-County player in both basketball and lacrosse at Morris Knolls High School in Rockaway, N.J., with over 1,000 career points in basketball and 250 points in lacrosse. Her lacrosse totals are even more impressive in light of the fact that her entire senior season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Losing that whole season was very disappointing because I really wanted to play with those friends for one last year,” Mitarotonda said.

Despite offers from bigger schools and Division I programs, Mitarotonda says that ESU felt like the right fit for college. Smaller classes and a better balance between academic and athletic demands were important to her. As the youngest of three siblings, the chance to play one college season with her older sister, Krista, also an All-American player for the Warriors, was enticing.

“Our family has always played sports,” said Mitarotonda, who started with lacrosse in the third grade. “I love lacrosse because everything else gets blocked out of my mind when I’m playing.”

That singular focus, along with an enthusiastic and expressive persona on the field, fuels Mitarotonda’s passion.

“If I’m not celebrating after scoring, then it means I’m not having fun,” Mitarotonda said. “And if I’m not having fun, that means I’m not going to play my best.”

Through two seasons, there’s been no evidence showing a lack of engagement.

“She brings excitement into everything she does,” Barakos-Yoder said. “She is a true midfielder who plays at both ends of the field. She’s already improved her game in so many areas since arriving here, with things like her shot repertoire and her play on defense. But she doesn’t want any praise. She just wants to keep getting better.”

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