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FINAL: Pitt 4, Virginia Tech 1

ACC Women’s Soccer

FINAL: PItt 4, Virginia Tech 1

Match Stats

MATCH SUMMARY

Pitt women’s soccer team (8-1-0, 1-0-0 ACC) got off to a solid start to Atlantic Coast Conference play, recording a decisive 4-1 road victory over Virginia Tech (6-2-1, 0-1-0 ACC) Friday at Thompson Field.

“Extremely proud of this team as they just continue to get better,” head coach Randy Waldrum said. “We scored four great goals today, both in our build up and set pieces.”

Pitt’s eight victories in its first nine games marks the best start to a season in program history. The Panthers picked up their first-ever win over the Hokies and have started ACC play with a win for just the second time in program history as a pair of late first-half goals proved to be the difference.

“They (Virginia Tech) have been a nemesis the past couple of years so it was great to finally get a convincing win on the road,” Waldrum said.

Landy Mertz put the Panthers on the board quickly, giving a Pitt a 1-0 lead with her fourth goal of the year in the fourth minute by scoring from bottom center of goal off her right foot, with Sarah Schupansky providing the assist.

Pitt maintained its one-goal lead thanks to a great save by Caitlyn Lazzarini on a good scoring opportunity for Virginia Tech’s Tori Powell in the 21st minute.

The late stage of the first half saw a flurry of goals and when the dust settled Pitt held a 3-1 advantage going into the break.

Emmalee McCarter tied the game for the Hokies as she scored on a penalty kick in the 40th minute.

The tie score was short lived, though, as freshman Katie Zailski delivered her first collegiate goal for the Panthers less than a minute later. She scored from bottom right of goal, with Ellie Coffield assisting. Pitt’s lead then swelled to 3-1 just over a minute later as Mackenize Evers netted her first of the year from bottom left of goal. Leah Pais was credited with the assist.

“It was great to see Katie Zailski get her first collegiate goal at such an important time,” Waldrum said. “It was a great response to their penalty kick goal. Then to see Mackenzie Evers come on and score in a way that (associate head coach) Ben (Waldrum) has been working with her on was amazing, too.”

The connection of Pittsburgh natives Schupansky and Mertz delivered again for Pitt in the 48th minute as Schupansky scored from top right of goal off her left foot with Mertz assisting.

That was all the scoring the Panthers needed as Pitt blanked Virginia Tech over the final 42 minutes.

Virginia Tech outshot Pitt, 19-15, but the Panthers held a decisive 12-4 advantage in shots on goal.

Mertz led Pitt with four shots, including a game-high three on goal. Both of Coffield’s shots were on goal while Pais totaled three shots off the bench, with two coming on goal. Lazzarini finished with three saves.

“I thought it was a good overall performance, and we controlled the game the way we wanted and handled their counterattacks and long service well,” Waldrum said.

For Virginia Tech, Natalie Mitchell compiled a game-high five shots and was one of five Hokies with multiple shots. Lauren Hargrove made a game-high eight saves but gave up all four goals.
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UP NEXT
Pitt takes on Miami in its first ACC home game of the 2022 season next Thursday at Ambrose Urbanic Field. First touch is set for 6 p.m. The showdown will be televised live on ACC Network.

PITT NOTES

  • Pitt is now 39-35-1 under the leadership of fifth-year head Randy Waldrum. After going 9-22-4 in the first two years of a massive rebuild, Pitt has gone 30-15 over the last two-plus seasons.
  • Landy Mertz has now compiled 29 points during her Panther career with nine goals and 11 assists.
  • Sarah Schupansky scored her 12th career goal and dished out her 10th career assist, giving her 34 career points in less than two full seasons at Pitt.
  • Mackenzie Evers scored her second career goal.
  • With her ninth assist as a Panther, Leah Pais has now totaled 37 points in her Pitt career.
  • Ellie Coffield recorded her second assist of the season and seventh of her career, upping her career point total to 17.
  • Caitlyn Lazzarini is now 16-7-0 in goal in  her career and has made 75 career saves, with 25 coming this season.

UPDATES

PREVIEW

The Panthers open the Atlantic Coast Conference portion of its 2022 schedule when it travels to Blacksburg, Va., to battle Virginia Tech.

They’ll have get through the ACC season without its leading scorer, Amanda West, who announced earlier this week she has knee injury that will likely keep her out for the season, though she does intend to return for her fifth season in 2023.

Pitt’s leading scorer Amanda West announces likely season-ending knee injury; intends to return in 2023

Pitt prevailed in seven of its first eight games for the second year in a row to finish with a strong non-conference record. The Panthers have ambitions to get into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, and they’ll need to earn wins in ACC conference play.

Thus, games like this against Virginia Tech will be important.

The Panthers went a perfect 4-0 at home in non-conference action, wrapping up that portion of its 2022 schedule with a 3-2 triumph over Liberty last Sunday at Ambrose Urbanic Field. After falling behind 1-0 in the 11th minute, Leah Pais delivered her second brace in three matches, scoring in the 30th and 38th minutes to give the Panthers a lead they never relinquished. Ellie Coffield added an insurance goal on a free kick in the 55th minute.

MATCH NOTES

STARTING OUT HOT
With its 6-0 start to the 2022 campaign, the Panthers matched the 2020 Pitt squad for the best start to a season in program history. Pitt has come storming out of the gate each of the last three seasons, following up its 6-0 start in 2020 by rattling off five straight wins to begin the ’21 regular season.

BUILDING THE PROGRAM
The Panthers are now 38-35-1 under the leadership of fifth-year head coach Randy Waldrum. After going 9-22-4 in the first two years of a massive rebuild, Pitt has gone 29-15 over the last two-plus seasons.

OFFENSIVE ONSLAUGHT
Pitt has outscored the opposition 29-6 so far in 2022. The Panthers rolled to a 7-0 victory over Kent State, marking the second time in as many seasons that Pitt has registered a 7-0 win, beating Saint Francis by the same score on Sept. 9, 2021. The victory over Kent State marked the third-straight season in which Pitt has scored seven goals in a game, with a 7-1 win over App State on Sept. 13, 2020, starting the streak. The Panthers have totaled at least six goals in a game five times and have won by at least five goals seven times in the last three years.

The Panthers currently rank second in NCAA Division I in total points (83) and are tied for first in total goals (29) and tied for second in scoring offense (3.62 points per game). Pitt is also tied for third in the country in total assists (25) and ranks fifth in both shots per game (23.12) and shots on goal per game (10.75).

FINDING BALANCE
The Panthers have seen 11 different players find the back of the net so far this season. Amanda West leads the way with six goals, with Leah Pais right behind her with five. All five of Pais’ goals in 2022 have come over the last three games. Sarah Schupansky is third on the squad with four goals while Landy Mertz and Ellie Coffield are tied for fourth with three apiece. Emily Yaple and Fleming Dean have each cashed in twice. Ashton Gordon, Bri Hilsenteger, Samiah Phiri and Anna Bout have each found the back of the net once.

HOW MAY WE ASSIST?
Eleven different Panthers have distributed assists this season, with Anna Bout leading the way with five. Her 15 career assists are good for the fifth-most in program history. Amanda West, Sarah Schupansky, Leah Pais, Landy Mertz and Emily Yaple are all tied for second with three apiece. Samiah Phiri has accounted for two assists while Ellie Coffield, Ashton Gordon, Keera Melenhorst and Ashley Moon have all logged one helper.

SCOUTING VIRGINIA TECH
Pitt and Virginia Tech are set to meet for the ninth time, with the Panthers still in search of their first win over the Hokies as the hosts enter Friday’s contest with a 7-0-1 advantage. The Panthers fell to the Hokies at home last year, 2-1, on Oct. 2, 2021. Pitt’s last trip to Blacksburg resulted in a 2-0 setback on Oct. 4, 2020.

Virginia Tech is led by Charles “Chugger” Adair, who has been at the helm of the Hokies for 12 seasons and owns a record of 144-69-23. The Hokies have posted winnings records in 10 of his previous 11 seasons.

The Hokies were picked to finish ninth in the ACC’s preseason head coaches poll. Virginia Tech went 6-1-1 in non-conference play, most recently knocking off Northern Colorado at home, 5-2, last Sunday.

Virginia Tech boasts a top-15 nationally ranked offensive attack, tied for 10th in total goals (23) while ranking 13th in total points (67). The Hokies are led by Tori Powell and Taylor Price, who are tied for fifth among ACC players with five goals apiece. Lauren Hargrove has started six of seven games in goal for Virginia Tech, making 19 saves and posting three shutouts.

UP NEXT
Pitt takes on Miami in its first ACC home game of the 2022 season next Thursday at Ambrose Urbanic Field. First touch is set for 6 p.m. The showdown will be televised live on ACC Network.

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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