Women’s soccer is back for the University of Pittsburgh. Sunday’s game isn’t an ACC contest, but it’s a rivalry nonetheless.
Duquesne University will take a quick trip over to Oakland to face off with the Panthers. This spring, the Panthers only have two matches, due to new rules established by the ACC. Duquesne features in the Atlantic 10 Conference, and did not compete in a fall season.
In the fall, the Panthers compiled a 9-5 record. Now, Pitt is looking to have its best-ever season with aspirations to reach 11 wins. Although the second match against Marshall was cancelled for March 21, the program said it has full expectations to find competition (although the day could be different).
Randy Waldrum, fresh off international duty with the Nigerian women’s national team, spoke with Pittsburgh Soccer Now about the upcoming city match and his aspirations for the team in the spring.
Waldrum said his players are really excited about competing, even if it’s just for two games. Waldrum is especially excited to bring in nine new members to the team, incoming freshmen who are part of the recently recruited 21-player class.
“We’re so eager for them to play. They’re so good, it’s such a good class that it’s going to be an exciting time for our program,” Waldrum said. “We still have business to take care of with the returning players, but you already have the excitement for the fall. They fit right in and it’s just a phenomenal group. It’s been a fun spring to work with that group and integrate them into our existing group.”
Waldrum has a young group on his hands. In addition to the nine incoming freshmen, Waldrum only has one senior returning. Dixon Veltri is pursuing her master’s degree after graduating undergrad in December.
“She wanted to finish what she started in the fall and we wanted her to have the opportunity,” Waldrum said.
— Pitt Women's Soccer (@Pitt_WSOC) March 3, 2021
ACC only permitting limited matches
The Panthers featured in 14 games in the fall. According to Waldrum, the impression was that six more games would be granted for the spring, especially due to the lack of preseason games.
“That was kind of the plan going in. Somewhere in October, the ACC came back and the decision was made to cut the soccer schedules,” Waldrum explained. “We went from 20 games to 16. We only had two games left, because of what the ACC came up with… That’s what we’ve got to deal with.”
Waldrum said that the two matches will count for the season — and for the Panthers’ hopes to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“We want to get two wins. On the one hand, two wins would put us at 11, which no team has ever done. It’s been 10 before, but not 11. Our kids know that it’s special and realize that. We don’t know where the NCAA is, though. We could finish at 11-5, and I don’t know if that puts us in the conversation or not.”
Waldrum said that, no matter what, he wants his team to compete hard.
“I think there’s still something to at least play for, even if it’s unknown now,” Waldrum said. “Two more wins now will put us in the record book.”
Our 🏠 got an upgrade 😏
— Pitt Women's Soccer (@Pitt_WSOC) March 4, 2021
Waldrum: City game will miss the fans
That journey to 11-5 begins on Sunday with Duquesne.
Waldrum said he has great respect for Duquesne coach Al Alvine and the school’s program. “We have a lot of respect for Al and what he does with Duquesne… I think it’s a good game. I know our kids are excited about it. It’s a nice little rivalry,” Waldrum said.
However, Waldrum said that not having fans at Ambrose Urbanic Field will certainly take away from the city contest.
“I think that no fans is going to take a lot away from it,” Waldrum said. “When we went over in the spring a couple times, and they came to us twice, we had them in a regular season game a couple years ago. We usually have great fan turn out. I think because of the path we’re trying to take the program, and what Al is doing, we haven’t been able to do it as regular.”
“We want to fit it in every year.”
Pittsburgh and Duquesne face off at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The match will air on the ACC Network and will also air through ESPN+. Look for John Krysinsky’s preview of Duquesne women’s program on Saturday for Pittsburgh Soccer Now!