No. 20 Pitt women’s soccer played the second game of its three-game homestand at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Thursday, crushing the St. Francis Red Flash 7-0.
The Panthers came into the match after their first loss of the season against No. 6 TCU. Despite its loss earlier this week, head coach Randy Waldrum is pleased with where his team is a third of the way through the season.
“We’re in a really good place [right now],” Waldrum said after the TCU loss. “If you asked me in the preseason ‘Would you take a 5-1 record playing the 16th ranked and 6th ranked teams?’ I would’ve taken it before we even kicked a ball.”
Junior forward Amanda West did not start for the second straight match due to an undisclosed injury. Waldrum claimed that she could’ve gotten some minutes, but the coaching staff felt it wasn’t necessary with how the game turned out.
The coaching staff will make a decision closer to Pitt’s next game if West will play, according to Waldrum.
The game started off sluggish, similar to the way most of the Panthers’ games have started this season. The pressure from both sides was intense enough to scramble each other’s defenses, but not enough to muster a shot on net. Pitt had four corner kicks in the span of four minutes, but none of them could find their way past the Red Flash defense and sophomore goalkeeper Sarah McConnon.
That changed in the 15th minute. Pitt senior defender Hailey Davidson sent the ball from far out into the 18-yard-box, where it found the head of first-year forward Sarah Schupansky. As the ball slowly dribbled past one of the St. Francis defenders, redshirt junior forward Emily Harrigan swung her foot around and beat McConnon going the other way. The Panthers broke the ice taking a 1-0 lead.
After junior forward Landy Mertz nutmegged her defender, just two minutes later she found first-year midfielder Ellie Coffield near the penalty spot. Coffield only had to move the ball a few feet in front of her and Harrigan finished the job, sending the ball into the back of the net for another score to put the Panthers up by two. Harrigan, finishing with two goals and an assist, commented on how comfortable she has felt coming in as a transfer.
“The transfer process was a little rushed for me, but I knew I wanted to come here,” she said. “Today definitely eased the nerves of being on a new team — I feel like I’m home.”
The Red Flash defense had their work cut out for them throughout the half. Pitt would end up finishing the frame with 22 shots, nine of them on goal. Pitt registered just 14 shots — five on net — in the entire game against TCU. St. Francis would go into the locker room at the break with only two shots, one on goal.
Even as the Panthers continued to pelt their opponent with shots, they wouldn’t score again until the 38th minute. On one of Pitt’s eight corner kicks of the half, Davidson swung the ball inside the box, where senior defender Kate McKay headed the ball past the goal line for Pitt’s third score of the night.
The home team was not done scoring in the first half. Junior midfielder Krystyna Rytel took a free kick in the 42nd minute and placed it on first-year forward Mackenzie Edwards’ foot who scored Pitt’s fourth and final goal of the half. Pitt went into the break with a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Panthers picked up where they left off in the 48th minute. Harrigan crossed the ball into the box and Mertz collected the pass and put it in front of the goal, where Schupansky gently placed Pitt’s fifth goal of the game.
Waldrum noted that the Panthers’ depth on offense has improved since last season, which helped when West was scratched from tonight’s match.
“In years past, that would’ve probably hurt us,” Waldrum said. “Not that we don’t want Amanda on the field, because we do, but we certainly have some depth up front that can pick up the slack.”
Sophomore midfielder Emily Yaple would get in on the scoring action in the 58th minute. Davidson fed her the pass, and Yaple wound up from 24 yards out. The shot deflected off a St. Francis defender, but ricocheted over McConnon’s head and into the net.
Junior forward Leah Pais tacked on one final goal with just 20 seconds to go, and the Panthers took the victory 7-0 over the Red Flash.
Pitt dominated in almost every offensive category — 41 shots to SFU’s three, and 19 shots on goal to SFU’s two. The Panthers also earned 11 corner kicks, while the Red Flash didn’t attempt any.
The Panthers complete their homestand and non-conference schedule when they host the Towson Tigers on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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