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Pitt Women defeat Boston College, end ACC drought, in overtime

Members of the Pittsburgh Panthers pile on top of Amanda West to celebrate her game-winning goal, and the team's first ACC win since 2016, over Boston College. Photo courtesy of Matt Hawley/Pitt Athletics.

Pitt Women defeat Boston College, end ACC drought, in overtime

Pittsburgh, Pa. — In all-time series history against Boston College, the Pittsburgh Panthers have never won, or tied, a match.

The script was flipped Thursday night, though. Boston College, a new-look team under first year head coach Jason Lowe, marched into Ambrose Urbanic Field with history on their side. However, Lowe brushed that off almost immediately, saying that history doesn’t mean anything with a new season.

Luckily for the Panthers, that was true. Pittsburgh ended a three-year streak of winless ACC matches with a 2-1 overtime victory. Pittsburgh’s game-winning goal was scored by freshman Amanda West in the 94′ minute, off a Cheyenne Hudson cross. Pitt’s last ACC victory came on Oct. 9, 2016, against Miami. At that point, all of the new freshman on the roster — 17, to be exact — were still in the early phases of high school.

Randy Waldrum, Pitt’s second year head coach, was still in the NWSL with the Houston Dash.

The emotion on the pitch was infectious after the final whistle and goal from West. Players rushed onto the pitch and celebrated like they were winning a national championship. After the match, Waldrum said that players like Aideen O’Donoghue, Amaia Pena and Juliana Vazquez were thanking the staff for helping them get back to winning ways.

The overall quality for Pitt has improved this year. They are now 1-2-2 in ACC play. Last year, the team did not even register a tie during the conference schedule. However, this year, Pitt has fought back against teams like Miami and Syracuse. They came close to drawing with last year’s national champion Florida State.

“To go dive in on the pile and celebrate the game-winning goal, seeing the players’ emotions… it was emotional for me, too,” Waldrum said. “To see this program turn with the promises we made was huge for them.”

Hudson shines on offense and defense

Creating plays and then rushing back on defense is what Cheyenne Hudson does.

The senior from West Virginia provided both assists for Juliana Vazquez’ goal in the 50′ minute, and on West’s winning shot. However, Hudson was just as effective on defense, too. She made two game-preserving clearances to help out goalkeeper Pena, using her head on one clearance and her feet on another. Throughout the night, she contained Boston College freshman standout Sam Smith, along with Panthers centerback Mackenzie Edwards.

Hudson said she felt on cloud nine after the victory.

“It’s huge,” she said. “I’ve been here four years and we’ve never won. Last year, this team beat us 7-0, so to come back and beat them, and get an ACC win, is incredible. I can’t explain how I feel right now. I feel like I’m on cloud nine.”

Pitt did give away one goal on a rather unlucky play. Although credited to Boston College’s Mia Karras, the Panthers saw an own goal from Dixon Veltri slide past Pena. However, Pitt supplied plenty of offensive and defensive pressure, forcing overtime. In the waning seconds of the second half, German international Vildan Kardesler weaved her way inside the box and almost scored the game winner.

In goal, Pena registered two saves against Boston College midfielders Gaby Carreiro and Jade Ruiters.

Anna Rico injury and update

In the first half, Panthers fans winced when seeing forward Anna Rico go down with an injury. Rico stayed on the pitch until two trainers came over and helped her off. On camera, it seemed that Rico had her ankle stepped on by Boston College defender Sydney Moore.

The foul occurred inside the box, but no penalty was called.

Rico was helped off the pitch and did not return. Coach Waldrum said after the match that she injured her ankle and that she would likely be out for this weekend’s match against North Carolina. Starting the second half in her place was redshirt freshman Marti Floyd.

“She injured a little bit of her ankle and the upper part of her leg,” Waldrum explained. “She’s getting checked out now to make sure there’s nothing going on that the trainers did not anticipate… I would assume for sure she’d be out for the weekend. But, hopefully it’s nothing serious.”

What’s Next?

A school known for bringing up national team stars, the Panthers will host the University of North Carolina on Sunday.

Currently, there’s a national team capped player on the roster in defender Emily Fox. She missed out on making the World Cup roster this past summer. However, she does have three appearances for the national team since 2018. Fox was also part of the SheBelieves Cup roster in 2019.

Brianna Pinto is the team’s leading scorer with seven goals. However, Alessia Russo and Bridgette Andrzejewski are not far behind, with six and five goals respectively. Fox and four other players have registered more than five assists this year. The Tar Heels did end last night’s match against Duke with a scoreless draw in double overtime.

Sunday’s match will begin at 1 p.m. and air on the ACC Network.

The sport of soccer is Rachael McKriger's area of expertise. McKriger covers Steel City FC for Pittsburgh Soccer Now and provides various columns, with occasional work with PITT Women's Soccer. 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. McKriger is a member of the official NWSL Media Association and the North American Soccer Reporters.

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