In his first season at helm of Pitt’s women’s soccer program, Randy Waldrum experienced his share of growing pains.
The veteran college coach who’s helped turn multiple women’s soccer programs around and has won multiple National Championships, knew that drastic changes needed to made to move the Pitt women’s program forward after a season which Pitt showed slight improvements (4-12-1 overall record), but couldn’t pick up a win against Atlantic Coast Conference competition (0-10).
“Anytime you have to make a lot of changes, it can be good and bad,” Waldrum said. “Many of the kids that were with us (in the Fall), have been great, but right now, we’re trying to build a program and get players that can compete at that level. The ACC is so competitive.”
Immediately, Ben Waldrum, son of Randy, who serves as an assistant coach and is his top recruiter, hit the ground running to start getting commitments from top-level student athletes to join the Pitt women’s soccer program.
For the incoming class of 2019, the younger Waldrum has been focused on getting more players who could play immediately, and remarkably has rounded up a large crop of new recruits, with 17 players that have officially signed on to join the program.
“We are going to be markedly improved,” the elder Waldrum added. “It’s going to be exciting.”
In November, shortly after the new, earlier National Signing Day, the Panthers announced eight high school seniors who will be joining the program including two from the Pittsburgh area, Shady Side Academy’s Krystyna Rytel and Fox Chapel’s Sarah Sinnott.
Waldrum didn’t know what to expect when they started recruiting both nationally, and in Western Pennsylvania.
“What has really helped is that Pitt has such an outstanding reputation academically.” Waldrum said. “That makes it a smoother sell.”
The Waldrums also discovered there’s a lot of talent in their new backyard.
“There’s talent here. We built some in-roads now. There were some clubs and coaches around here that haven’t seen Pitt come by to watch their players in six or seven years,” Waldrum said. “There are a lot of people in this area that are excited about what we’re doing.”
One of Waldrum’s former coaches from his staff at Notre Dame, Randy Rohm coaches Rytel and Sinnott at Century United, and was excited to make those connections.
“Krystyna brings great size, athleticism and has the ability to play in multiple positions. Her versatility and ability will make an immediate impact on our program. She has been coached by one of the area’s top club coaches in Randi Rohm, and will be well prepared to play right away,” Waldrum said. “As for Sarah, she has a calmness and quality on the ball. She possess an elite level technical ability and can play in multiple attacking positions for us. Her soccer intelligence will help her be well prepared to have an impact on the 2019 team.”
In December, a third local player, Abby Wert, from Avonworth who plays for Riverhounds Development Academy, also signed on to join the Panthers.
Waldrum and his staff weren’t stopping with the nine high school recruits signed by the end of 2018. Looking to bring in players that can have an immediate impact, they’ve secured commitments from more transfers and international students, mostly from Canada.
“We have a player who brings experience with Mexico’s U-20 team (Athalie Palomo), plus we did real well in Canada,” Waldrum said. “With this class, we’ll draw upon players that can have an immediate impact. The challenge in women’s college soccer, is that we’re recruiting kids earlier. Many top players start to make commitments when they’re freshman and sophomores. Our classes of 2020 and 2021 are already close to being done. We’re going to be bringing in better players each year.”
Here’s the full list of incoming players for the incoming Class of 2019 that have signed to play at Pitt:
· Amanda West | Burlington, Ontario, Canada
· Anna Bout | Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
· Mackenzie Edwards | Jamison, Pa.
· Caitlyn Lazzarini | Nazareth, Pa.
· Maddy Moran | Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
· Athalie Palomo | Irving, Texas
· Sarah Sinnot | Pittsburgh, Pa.
· Krystyna Rytel | Pittsburgh, Pa.
· Sydney Marasco | Schwenksville, Pa.
· Maddie Root | Ephrata, Pa.
· Marisa Tava | Toms River, N.J.
· Abby Wert | Pittsburgh, Pa.
· Kiki Lowell | Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
· Kate McKay | Scottsdale, Ariz.
· Danielle Maggio | Glen Arm, Md.
· Rachel Rasins | Flint, Mich.
· Rebecca Bartosh | Hiawath First Nation, Ontario, Canada
With a large influx of new players coming into the program, one of Waldrum’s toughest tasks has been to have difficult discussions with players who were part of the team in the Fall.
“They’ve been great, but they’ll need to find a better fit where they can play,” Waldrum said. “We’ve let them know that we’re here to help them.”
Among the players that will be returning in the Fall, include former Canon McMillan and Riverhounds Development Academy standout Aideen O’Donoghue, who is a rising junior. Waldrum said O’Donoghue is “a competitor, a warrior” and looking at different ways at utilizing her this coming year.
As this program remains in transition, Pitt’s Spring schedule will be light in terms of scrimmages and friendlies.
“With so many players coming in, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Right now, the players that are here are mostly working on individual things. We still might have a few scrimmages, but we really won’t have our full roster together until the Summer,” Waldrum explained.
Below are more extensive bio’s on the eight players that signed with Pitt in November.
ANNA BOUT | MIDFIELDER | CAMBRIDGE, ONTARIO, CANADA
HIGH SCHOOL: Attends St. John’s Kilmarnock High School … in 2015 won junior girls Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA) Division 1 title … started every game … named team captain and awarded Most Valuable Player … in 2016 was named team captain … defended CISAA title in another undefeated season … scored 16 of the team’s 17 goals … awarded Most Valuable Player … in 2017, finished fourth in league play and defeated top-seed in West Division for the quarterfinal crossover game … served as team captain awarded Most Valuable Player … member of 2016 Ontario Summer Games Championship Team for field hockey … selected to Ontario U16 team (2015) … undefeated vs. Ontario Independent School League in cross country and track and field (2016) … played for Cambridge Youth Soccer up an age group for eight years until 2016 … Ontario Cup semifinalist and Robbie Tournament Champions in 2016 for Cambridge youth soccer club … member of Regional Excel Program (REX) in 2015 and was a three-time starter for Team Ontario 2015-17 … OPDL Cup Champion 2017 with Burlington Bayhawks … currently plays on the U18 Burlington Bayhawks team in the Ontario Youth Soccer League (OYSL) … has completed eight mission trips to Dominican Republic … loves surfing.
PERSONAL: Born April 23, 2001 … Cambridge, Ontario native … daughter of Barbara and Henry Bout … has one older sister, Erika … undecided on major.
WALDRUM ON BOUT: “Anna is a technically gifted player with an elite level soccer IQ. Her mobility, passing range and overall ability makes our team better in midfield for the 2019 season. We are very excited to have a player of this quality on our team. Anna helped guide her Burlington Bayhawks club team to a third place finish in the Canadian national championships along with club teammate Amanda West.”
MACKENZIE EDWARDS | MIDFIELDER | JAMISON, PENNSYLVANIA
HIGH SCHOOL: Attends Central Bucks South … earned four varsity letters … in 2015, won MVP Varsity award … scored the game winning goal to get into State Championship final … awarded First Team All-League, District 1 AAAA … in 2016, won MVP Varsity award … played in State Championship finals in Hershey, Pa. … awarded First Team All-League, District 1 AAAA … top scorer throughout past 10 years of school … in 2017, won the Unsung Hero Award and played center/outside defense … First Team All-League, District 1 AAAA … named junior captain … in 2018, First Team All-League … holds the record for most goals and assists … senior team captain … earned academic high honors in 2015 and 2016 … earned academic honors in 2017 and 2018 … placed first in Eastern Pennsylvania State Cup Championship and placed in Regionals for PA Rush Girls soccer in 2014 … invited to National Team training in 2017 … played in Indiana for VE United for Nationals.
PERSONAL: Born April 3, 2001 … Jamison, Pa. native … daughter of John and Beth Edwards … works as a caregiver for elderly … loves camping … takes food to homeless shelter around Thanksgiving every year … has a sister, Brooke … has an older sister, Lexi, who plays basketball for University of Cabrini … has a cousin, Brian O’Neill, that played hockey at Yale, for the LA Kings, and in the Olympics.
WALDRUM ON EDWARDS: “Mackenzie’s athleticism and technical ability is at an elite level. Her versatility for her Continential ECNL club team, having played in multiple positions, will be a big asset and will be an immediate impact for the 2019 team.”
CAITLYN LAZZARINI | GOALKEEPER | NAZARETH, PENNSYLVANIA
HIGH SCHOOL: Attends Nazareth Area High School … four-year varsity letterman … in 2015 was voted Rookie of the Year by team … earned Eastern Penn Conference Honorable Mention … in 2016, started every game … awarded Eastern Penn Conference All-Area Second Team … in 2017, was honored as Lehigh Valley Athlete of the Week … awarded Eastern Penn Conference All-Area First Team … was a top-10 finalist for Morning Call All-Area Girls Soccer Player … in 2018, was named team captain … voted Best Goalkeeper in Lehigh Valley … won second Lehigh Valley Athlete of the Week award … was named Eastern Penn Conference Star of the Week … was the first goalkeeper to make All-State in the Lehigh Valley … was nominated for Coordinated Health Athlete of the Week scholarship … was voted Most Valuable Player for high school team … made Pennsylvania All-State Team … was named Eastern Penn Conference All-Area First Team … finished in second place in EPC League tournament … received High Honor Roll (2015-19) … member of National Honors Society … member of women’s basketball team … was a state qualifier for Future Business Leaders of America competition … won first place in FBLA Regional Competition … played in Player Development Academy ECNL (PDA) from 2016-19 … won National Championship (2018) … played for Harleysville FC in 2014 and was named Most Valuable Player … played in Eastern PA ODP (2014-15) … played for Western Lehigh Soccer club 2011-13 … played for Nazareth Soccer Club 2007-10.
PERSONAL: Born July 19, 2001 in Pontremoli, Italy … daughter of Helena and Francesco Lazzarini … has two older brothers, Mitchell and Mathew … loves to snowboard … intends to major in business.
WALDRUM ON LAZZARINI: “Caitlyn is technically sound in all areas. She has a command and control in the penalty box. Her leadership ability and communication skills are at an elite level that is vital for success in the ACC. Caitlyn comes from one of the top youth club programs in the country with PDA and will be well prepared to play right away.”
MADDY MORAN | DEFENDER | EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA
HIGH SCHOOL: Attends Archbishop MacDonald High … as a freshman in 2015, played for Victoria Soccer Club U16 … played for Victoria Women’s Major League … won Gold City Championships … was named “Athlete of the Year”… as a sophomore was Victoria Women’s Major League National and Provincial Champion … high school team won Silver City Championship … member of the Team Alberta U18 England Tour … as a junior, was a member of Canada Soccer Regional Excel Program … Academic Honors 2015-18 … cross country City Champion … badminton City Champion … track & field City Champion in 800m and 1500m … MVP in volleyball … was a member of the basketball and rowing team … is Duke of Edinburgh International Award candidate.
PERSONAL: Born Aug. 13, 2001 … Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native … daughter of Kevin and Kathryn Moran … has two younger siblings, Ellie and Charlie … can play violin … has canoed over 100km through the Rocky Mountains … intends to major in science.
WALDRUM ON MORAN: “Maddy has the toughness and ball winning ability of a hard-nosed central defender that is needed in our program. She possess the technical and tactical qualities that will make an immediate impact on our team. Maddy has exceptional leadership qualities, which is rare in young players, and we looking for her to help guide our team to ACC success.”
ATHALIE PALOMO | MIDFIELDER | IRVING, TEXAS
HIGH SCHOOL: Attends Lewisville High School … three-time varsity letterman … in 2015, started every game, recording eight goals … awarded Newcomer of the Year 2015-16 … made second team All-District 6-6A … in 2016, started every game and was second leading scorer during the season as defensive-midfielder … was named team captain and awarded Most Valuable Player of the Year … won First Team All-District 6-6A … as a junior, played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy … member of U20 Mexico National team and played against several universities … played in Sha Muttu Lakeside Cup International Women’s Youth tournament in China … in 2018, played in the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy … made final roster for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in France … 2016 Student of the Year for Health and Sciences … named Sophomore “Fantastic Farmer” for academic excellence during 2017 school year … currently holds a 4.63 weighted GPA and is ranked in top seven percent of graduating class … played in Solar Montemayor (Select Lake Highlands D1) from U9-U13 … played ECNL for Dallas Texans (U13-U17) … made ECNL playoffs every year … was second leading scorer during U15 season … played for FC Dallas Women’s Semi-Pro team (2017 & 2018).
PERSONAL: Born Sept. 7, 2000 … Irving, Texas native … daughter of Lily Buendia and Richard Palomo … has two younger siblings, Diego and Sofia … took dance classes for four years … undecided on major.
WALDRUM ON PALOMO: “Athalie will be one of the most technical players in the 2019 team and she brings a wealth of experience, being a member of the U20 Mexico’s Women’s World Cup squad in France this past summer. She is a dynamic and versatile talent that can play in multiple positions and comes from one of the top youth club programs at FC Dallas that consistently competes for national championships.”
KRYSTYNA RYTEL | MIDFIELDER | PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
HIGH SCHOOL: Attends Shady Side Academy … as a freshman, recorded 29 goals and 30 assists as a starting varsity center midfielder … awarded All-Section honors … as a sophomore in 2016, was a WPIAL Champion and state finalist … scored 34 goals and tabulated 30 assists … All-Section … All-WPIAL … in 2017, was All-Section and All-WPIAL … recorded 44 goals and 35 assists … was Post-Gazette All-Area Team … was PIAA State Champion … four-year Century Club Team member … was a U.S. National Futsal Team Alternate … ran track for two years (4×800 relay).
PERSONAL: Born Dec. 14, 2000 … Fox Chapel, Pa. native … daughter of Michael Rytel and Pamela Moalli … has an older brother, Matt, who plays soccer at Brown University … mom was on USA National Crew Team (1986) … loves to spend time on the water, either paddle boarding, kayaking or waterskiing … intends to major on pre-med track and minor in business.
SARAH SINNOTT | FORWARD | PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
HIGH SCHOOL: Four-year varsity letterman at Fox Chapel High School … three-year Fox Chapel Area High School Board of School Directors Meritorious Student Award … two-year Western Pennsylvania High School Girls Soccer Coaches Association All-Section Team … two-time Big 56 Conference Quad A All-Section First Team … Western Pennsylvania High School Girls Soccer Coaches Association All-WPIAL Team … Scholar Athlete Award (2016-18) … cumulative High Honor award (2016-17) … National Honor Society (2017-18) … 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Award winner … Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Silver Key Award, Digital Art award recipient … 2017-18 PA West State Club Cup Champions … US Youth Soccer ODP Region 1 Championship finalist in 2017 … Jefferson Cup Girls Showcase finalist (2016 & 2017) … 2016 Champions League finalist … awarded third place in Eastern League (2018) … varsity letterman in lacrosse.
PERSONAL: Born April 20, 2001 … Pittsburgh, Pa. native … daughter of Michael and Virginia Sinnott … volunteers and is an officer with Best Buddies … St. Scholastica Church Vacation Bible School counselor (2016-18) … enjoys surfing.
AMANDA WEST | FORWARD | BURLINGTON, ONTARIO, CANADA
HIGH SCHOOL: Was a member of the BYSC G01 OPDL team (2008-17) … was a member of the BYSC U17 OYSL team … won Ontario Cup Championship … was a finalist at nationals … was a member of Team Ontario (2015-17) … awarded academic honors (2015-19) … dad was drafted by Boston Bruins … was High School Female Athlete of Year (2015) … HSSAA Senior Soccer Champions (2018, record 8-0-0).
PERSONAL: Born Feb. 11, 2001 … Burlington, Ontario, Canada native … Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School graduate … daughter of Marc and Christine West … has an older brother, Kyle … has a dog named after Evgeni Malkin … was born in Sundsvall, Sweden … intends to major in biology.
WALDRUM ON WEST: “Amanda is a goal-scorer. She has tremendous pace, composure and ability in and around the goal that will have an immediate effect on the 2019 team. She helped lead her Burlington Bayhawks club team to one of the most successful youth teams in Canada finishing third in their national championships. We could see her one day representing her country on a national team.”
Thanks to Kelly Dumrauf, Pitt Department of Athletics, for her assistance with this article.