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Gravante leads Panthers to ‘City Game’ victory over Duquesne, 2-0

Gravante leads Panthers to ‘City Game’ victory over Duquesne, 2-0

OAKLAND, Pa. (Sept. 6, 2018) — Madeline Gravante is right at home at the University of Pittsburgh.

The freshman from Staten Island, New York, has started every match this season for the Panthers. A natural defender, Gravante featured in the attacking forward position for the first time ever.

The move paid off for Gravante and the Panthers, Thursday night.

Gravante scored her first collegiate goal against Duquesne in the “City Game.” Ari Morgan and Mikayla Alcorn recorded the assists on the goal. The goal came in the sixth minute.

“It was really exciting, but I was kind of nervous going into the game, since I never played that position,” Gravante said. “My teammates told me I was going to do great and score, and then I scored. It was all them though. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

However, Gravante wasn’t done after one goal.

On just the third corner kick of the match — in the 73rd minute — Gravante found the back of the net again, off an assist from Juliana Vazquez. Gravante, two minutes later, tried another strike at goal, but was blocked by Lauren Bell.

Before the match, Gravante had only attempted one shot, against Morehead State.

After the match, Panthers Head Coach Randy Waldrum said that the coaching staff told Gravante to “get closer and shoot.”

“We moved some players around and got Madeline a little higher off the pitch,” Waldrum said. “The goal that she struck early was a great shot from distance. The second one was a goal off a set piece, which is important for us. I was really happy for her and I’m really proud of her.”

“It’s good to see the younger players settle in a bit.”

Alvine proud of Duquesne effort

After Gravante’s first goal, the Dukes started to press up. Deena DeBaldo, a sophomore from Fox Chapel, attempted four shots, with three on goal. However, all three were saved by the Panthers’ starting Spanish goalkeeper, Amaia Pena.

Abby Losco, a senior from Hopewell Township, recorded one shot.

However, the Panthers remained on top — both in the score and on defense. During the second half, Duquesne vaulted into an attack-only offense, with shots from Alyssa Victor and DeBaldo.

Despite the score-line, Al Alvine believed that the Dukes dominated the match.

“I thought we played well, dominated the game in stretches and this it the best we’ve played all season,” Alvine said. “It’s disappointed to come away with nothing. Obviously, if you don’t score goals, it’s hard to win games… I’m proud of the fight, the effort. The kids battled for 90 minutes. I can’t fault them for that.”

“We need to be more clinical in front of goal.”

Alvine referenced the opening minute of the match, when DeBaldo tallied her first shot on goal.

“We need to take the chances that we get,” Alvine said. “We had a great opportunity in the first minutes of the match and had them on their heels for the first 45 minutes. Overall, I’m happy with the effort and how the kids played today.”

“This was a game that they really wanted.”

What’s Next?

Pittsburgh enters a long stretch of facing nationally ranked teams.

First up, the Panthers will take on Kansas, Sunday, at 1 p.m. After the match — which will be held at the Ambrose Urbanic Field — the Panthers will take on No. 24 Louisville and No. 2 North Carolina.

Meanwhile, the Duquesne Dukes have a Sunday match against Morehead State University at Rooney Field. Kick off is slated for 1 p.m.

The sport of soccer is Rachael McKriger's area of expertise. McKriger covers Steel City FC for Pittsburgh Soccer Now and provides various columns. Elsewhere, McKriger covers the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC for Pittsburgh Sports Castle. Her coverage expanded to Last Word on Soccer in March 2018, where she began National Women's Soccer League coverage and U.S. Women's National Team reporting. A May 2018 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, McKriger is currently enrolled in graduate school at Point Park University.

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