Pitt (8-2-0) women’s soccer defeated the Navy Midshipmen (0-2-0) 4-1 in its second match of a four-game homestand. The Panthers have won two straight matches, remaining undefeated at home.
The Panthers had already played Navy once earlier in the season, where they escaped with an overtime victory in Annapolis on Sept. 20. Sophomore forward Amanda West converted on a penalty kick five minutes into the extra period to clinch a 1-0 win in the first meeting.
Pitt allowed parents to attend the game Sunday for the second time this fall, after having fans in the stands for the first time on Thursday against Boston College.
The match started off slow — Pitt’s offense pressured Navy’s defense, but they didn’t get a shot off until the seventh minute. On the other side of the ball, Navy’s offense couldn’t get any opportunities past the Pitt defense.
The game’s first action came in the 17th minute, when Navy junior defender Avery Fries fouled Pitt first-year forward Chantelle Parker. Fries contested that it should’ve been Parker who received the foul, but the referee wouldn’t budge.
Pitt junior forward Anna Rico, who scored the game-winning goal on Thursday against Boston College, took the ensuing set-piece from 32 yards out and put it in the upper right corner of the net. Her second goal in as many games gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead at the 16th minutes.
The Panthers extended their lead in the 27th minute when first-year forward Emily Yaple crossed the ball to West, who volleyed it into the back of the net. Her goal not only gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead, but also gave West the 52nd point of her career, the most by any Pitt women’s soccer player in program history.
Navy had chances to get back into the game, but the Pitt defense stood tall and stagnated the opposing offense. Panthers head coach Randy Waldrum said he was proud of the team’s defensive output, which held Navy without a shot in the first 34 minutes.
Navy first-year defender Kassidy Borden got called for a foul in the 39th minute, which gave Pitt another set-piece opportunity. Pitt junior defender Kate McKay took the resulting free-kick and put it right on the head of sophomore forward Leah Pais. The ball squeaked past Navy junior goalkeeper Megan Lamendola, and the Panthers took a 3-0 lead into the second half.
Pitt came out of the gate a bit more relaxed in the second period, almost immediately giving up an offensive opportunity to Navy. Navy had more chances as the half went on, but they couldn’t get on the board with a goal until the 63rd minute. Midshipmen sophomore forward Caitlin Doran scored from a drive up the right side of the pitch, cutting Pitt’s lead to 3-1.
Waldrum didn’t like Pitt’s intensity to start the final 45 minutes.
“The first 15 to 20 minutes [of the second half], I think we lost our way a little bit and let them crawl back into it.” Waldrum said.
The Navy goal seemed to snap Pitt out of their relaxed state — West drew a penalty inside the 6-yard box a few minutes later which lined her up for her seventh penalty kick of the season. She made Lamendola dive the wrong way, putting the ball in the top left corner of the goal. West’s second of the match, and fourth in her last two matches, gave the Panthers their three-goal lead back.
That goal gave her 11 on the season, which is now the most goals scored in a season for Pitt women’s soccer. West said she was honored, but she understood her teammates played a huge role in reaching that achievement.
“I’m not here to break individual records. I’m happy that I was able to do it, but all the credit goes to my teammates who are getting me the ball in the right areas,” West said. “At the end of the day, I just hope we win games.”
The rest of the half remained quiet. Both squads subbed in most of their bench players, and aside from a few shots — including one from West, trying for a hat trick — the final horn sounded, and the Panthers had beaten the Midshipmen 4-1.
West believed that Pitt’s defense had drastically improved since their Thursday victory.
“With every game our defense is improving… and they’re getting a lot more comfortable with the ball at our feet and distributing, and playing out of the back,” West said.
The Panthers continue their homestand on Thursday with an ACC matchup against the Florida State Seminoles.
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