Column: Pitt women’s soccer serves notice by earning elusive ACC statement win at Notre Dame

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Column: Pitt women's soccer serves notice by earning elusive ACC statement win at Notre Dame pitt win at nd


Photo courtesy of pitt athletics

The Pitt women’s soccer team has been in search of a big win against top-tier ACC competition for a few years.

While the Panthers have improved dramatically under head coach Randy Waldrum, getting a win against a ranked team on the road had eluded the program.

On Sunday, the Panthers put the ACC and the women’s college soccer landscape on notice that they may be a legitimate conference and national contender as they maintained their perfect start to ACC play by earning a 3-1 win over No. T-17 Notre. Dame (8-2-0, 1-2-0) on Sunday at Alumni Stadium.

The victory provided numerous milestones and breakthroughs for the program.

It was the first win over the Fighting Irish in 17 tries and extended their best start to a season in program history.

Pitt tied the 2015 team for the ACC’s best three-game start in program history.

And perhaps most importantly, they beat a ranked team on the road, giving them even more confidence and something to build on for this season and potentially as a program moving forward with the definition of victory that helps recruit and build a winning culture.

β€œWhat a fantastic win on the road against a very good team,” said Waldrum, who previously led the Irish to a pair of National Championships. β€œI am continually in awe of the way this team fights and responds. I am so proud of them, and it makes a wonderful birthday present. I am beyond words and so proud of these ladies.”

Waldrum’s program entered the season trying to finally make an effort to earn a spot in the ACC postseason for the first time, which is always difficult since only six of the 14 teams qualify for the ACC tournament.

The veteran coach has said it would be more difficult to get into the ACC postseason than to qualify for the NCAA tournament, which they came close to in 2020-21 and 2021, with 11 winning seasons but losing records in the ACC.

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The Panthers are also without their leading scorer in the past four years, Amanda West, who suffered a knee injury against Cincinnati in early September after scoring six goals in the team’s first five games.

Waldrum and his staff have been recruiting tirelessly since the day he stepped foot on the Pitt campus. This season, especially after West’s injury and against the ACC competition thus far, the Panthers’ depth and talent have been put to the test, and they’ve passed with flying colors.

Heading into Sunday’s game in South Bend, the Panthers were itching to finally get a big win against a top-tier ACC opponent.

On Waldrum’s birthday, his players gave him a gift he’ll never forget, defeating his old program by fighting a back-and-forth battle and emerging victorious.

The Panthers got on the scoreboard first to take a 1-0 halftime lead, then responded to a Notre Dame tie by scoring twice more to earn a key conference win away from home.

Pitt withstood the initial attack from Notre Dame, with Caitlyn Lazzarini making a couple of saves in the sixth minute to keep the Fighting Irish off the scoreboard.

Leah Country put the Panthers in front with his team-high seventh goal of the season, scoring on a second-chance opportunity after a shot from ana fights. Country’s seven goals have come in the last six games.

The Fighting Irish came with the draw in 64the minute Ellie Ospeck scored on an assist from Olivia Wingate to level the score at one.

However, Notre Dame’s goal did not deter the Panthers, as a pass by Samia Phiri set up a long run down the right side of the field by Landy Mertzwho buried the goal in the upper left corner to put Pitt back in front, 2-1.

Pitt got a sure goal 10 minutes later when Notre Dame scored an own goal on Pitt’s free kick that bounced off the net.

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“So many great performances, and every player played a part,” Waldrum said. β€œWe keep finding ways to respond, like after they tied the game 1-1. A few years ago, we may have buckled under the pressure. Our team knows we are good and capable, so they couldn’t wait to respond.”

The Panthers prevailed by a two-goal margin despite being outshot by the Fighting Irish, 15-9. Pais compiled a game-high five shots and three shots on goal. Lazzarini totaled a game-high five saves.

Maddie Mercado and Wingate combined for eight of Notre Dame’s 15 shots with four apiece, with two from Mercado reaching the arc to lead the team. Ashley Naylor made three saves but gave up all three goals.

The victory keeps the Panthers in the top of ACC conference standings where they are now tied with two of the ACC’s elite programs, Duke and Florida State. On Monday, the Panthers also promoted to seventh in the RPI ranking to solidify their NCAA tournament chances, but after not receiving a vote in the United Soccer Coaches Poll last week, the Panthers may also finally earn a national ranking soon.

But there is still much work to be done. The ACC is going to be a tall order, with games against powers from North Carolina, Duke and Florida State to come.

The immediate next order of business though, Pitt returns to the friendly confines of Ambrose Urbanic Field next Saturday for a 7 pm clash against Louisville.

PITT NOTES

  • Sunday’s win marked Pitt’s fifth over a ranked opponent in program history and his first since defeating 16th-ranked Oklahoma State 3-2 on Aug. 19, 2021.
  • Pitt is now 41-35-1 under the leadership of the fifth-year boss Randy Waldrum. After going 9-22-4 in the first two years of a massive rebuild, Pitt has gone 32-15 the past two seasons.
  • Leah Country he has now scored 16 career goals at Pitt, giving him 41 points in three seasons as a Panther.
  • Landy Mertz he has now scored 11 goals and recorded 33 points in his three years at Pitt.
  • ana fights he was credited with his team-high sixth assist of the season, increasing his career totals to 16 assists and 24 points.
  • Samia Phiri he scored his third save in his first season as a Panther.
  • Caitlyn Lazzarini is now 18-7-0 in career goals.



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John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also the author of ‘Miracle on the Mon’, a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, chronicling the history of the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium, with narration leading up to an extraordinary game that helped ignite the spark. and focused on him. for the franchise. John has covered sports for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as a color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and has worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast crews for the Pittsburgh Open Cup games. USA and the International Champions Cup held in the USA. Krysinsky also served as Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to their first winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); North Catholic Boys head coach (2007-08), Shady Side Academy Boys associate head coach (2009-2014).