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Riding High in the Rockies: Second half goals lead Pitt past Montana, 2-0

Photo courtesy Pitt Athletics

From Pitt women’s soccer report

Pitt women’s soccer team (2-0-0) potted a pair of second-half goals to overtake host Montana (0-1-1), 2-0, Sunday evening at South Campus Stadium in the finale of the Rumble in the Rockies.

The Panthers claimed bragging rights for the 2022 season-opening event in Missoula after blanking Gonzaga, 1-0, in the season opener on Thursday. Pitt started a new season with back-to-back shutout victories for the first time since 2017 and has started a season 2-0 for the sixth year in a row.

“I thought our possession was much better today, though I’m disappointed in the lack of quality chances we created in the first half,” fifth-year head coach Randy Waldrum said.

After playing to a scoreless first half for the second game in a row, the Panthers broke through courtesy of the same duo that got them on the scoreboard in Thursday’s win. In the 56th minute, Landy Mertz made a long run down the right side of the pitch, dribbling her way to the top of the penalty arc and dishing left to Amanda West, who took the pass into the box and beat Montana goalkeeper Camellia Xu with a shot that ended up in the back right corner of the net. Thursday’s win saw West score the first goal of the season from the left side in the 57th minute off a rebounded shot by Mertz.

“We were much more dangerous in the second half, and I thought Landy Mertz was a big part of that,” Waldrum said. “Really nice goal with Mertz providing Amanda West with the perfect entry pass and a great goal from a difficult angle.”

Pitt extended its lead to 2-0 in the 80th minute thanks to an impressive display of both passing and shooting, as Leah Pais knocked a pass in the direction of Bri Hilsenteger, who fired from the center of the arc for a goal that wound up top shelf in the left corner.

“Nice to see the combination from Leah Pais to Bri Hilsenteger on a spectacular second goal,” Waldrum said.

Pitt won the statistical battle in both shots (16-9) and corner kicks (6-1). West, Ellie Coffield and Anna Bout tied for the match lead with three shots apiece.

After making a career-high 10 saves in Thursday’s win over Gonzaga, Caitlyn Lazzarini finished with three stops in Sunday’s win en route to her fourth career shutout.

Jaden Griggs and Skyleigh Thompson tied for Montana’s team lead with two shots apiece. Xu made two saves for the Grizzlies in the defeat.

UP NEXT

Pitt plays in front of the hometown crowd for the first time in the 2022 regular season when it welcomes UMass to Ambrose Urbanic Field on Thursday. First touch is scheduled for 5 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on ACC Network Extra. The contest is the first half of a Pitt soccer doubleheader at Ambrose Urbanic Field as the men’s team opens its season against Georgetown at 8 p.m.

PITT NOTES

  • Pitt came away with the win in its first-ever matchup against Montana.
  • The Panthers improved to 17-7-3 record in season openers dating back to the program’s inaugural season in 1996. Pitt has now won its last six season openers dating back to 2017.
  • The Panthers have not lost a game in the month of August since a 2-1 setback at Darmouth on Aug. 30, 2019.
  • Pitt made a pair of changes to its starting XI from the season opener as Bri Hilsenteger and Katie Zailski both earned starts. Zailski, a freshman, made her first career collegiate start while Hilsenteger, a sophomore, made her second. “Always good when we can get our young players some playing time, which we were able to do at the start of the game,” Waldrum said.
  • West increased her Pitt record for career goals scored to 35.
  • Mertz recorded her ninth career assist as a Panther while Pais logged her sixth.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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