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Pitt midfielder Emily Yaple transfers to University of Florida

As undergraduates turn in their final papers and dissertations to their professors and graduate assistants, some will stay on campus for summer jobs and others will head back home till the Fall. A smaller percentage will be leaving Oakland or The Bluff for good as they transfer to a new college – including student-athletes.

That includes Pitt Women’s soccer midfielder Emily Yaple, who will be leaving behind Randy Waldrum’s squad for the sun and palm trees of the University of Florida.

“It wasn’t an easy decision for me to enter the transfer portal,” says Yaple, who spoke to Pittsburgh Soccer Now last week.

“I’ve loved the past three and a half years I’ve spent at the University and have grown so much as not only a soccer player, but a person as well. When I first walked through the doors of the PSC in January of 2020, I had no idea what to expect.”

Yaple leaves on good terms with the team and her coaches, saying “I have met my closest friends and I know that I could pick up the phone and call Randy and Ben if I ever need anything.”

Emily came to Pittsburgh from just up Interstate 79 in Erie PA, where she was a standout player for her high school, Fort LeBoeuf as well as her ECNL club, Western New York Flash. She also played club soccer for Beadling SC.

She started all 16 matches her Freshman year in 2020 with Pitt, with 3 goals and 2 assists, as the Lady Panthers went 11-5 that year. Yaple had a career-high 5 goals in 2021 and featured in 18 matches, although she predominantly came off the bench that year, starting just 7 matches.

This past season, Yaple’s playing time declined further as she saw just 639 minutes of action, the lowest of her three years on the club. Yaple saw the field in 21 matches, but started in only 5 games. In PSN’s interview, Yaple did not make any reference to her reduced playing time.

“The biggest reason I decided to take my last two years of eligibility at the University of Florida,” said Yaple, “was to experience something new and grow even more in a different environment. I was blessed to have been able to visit and talk to a handful of exceptional schools, but Florida felt like home the second I walked on campus.”

Switching to Florida means that Yaple will also be switching conferences, as the Gators play in the SEC. While an excellent soccer conference, it would be hard to argue that the competition Florida plays against are quite as elite as in the ACC; in the 41 year history of NCAA Women’s soccer, an SEC team has won the championship only once. That team was Florida, in 1998. Additionally, the Lady Gators struggled in 2022 to an awful 2-14-1 (WLT) record.

Despite all that, Emily was wowed by the coaching staff, and feels she will thrive and grow with Florida. The Florida Women’s Soccer team is lead by Head Coach Samantha Bohon. She became head coach in 2022, and is joined by assistants Adam Godwin and Josie Rix.

“Sam, Adam, and Josie have created an incredible team culture and environment that I’m so excited to join,” Yaple said. “I know we will be capable of doing things on the field that people won’t see coming this year.”

On the off chance Emily faces her old team again in either cross-conference or NCAA tournament action, she had some thoughts as to who she’d like to go up against. “If I were to face any of my old teammates in a match, I would love take on my roommate, Ashley Moon. Mainly because she’s coming back from an ACL injury and I can’t wait to see her back on the field.”

As Yaple heads off to Florida with great excitement, her journey as a player and as a person takes a new and exciting step, even if she will be missed up atop Cardiac Hill.

“As my time comes to an end, I can truly say soccer is so much bigger than a game.”

Mark Asher Goodman is a writer for Pittsburgh Soccer Now, covering the Riverhounds, the Pitt Men's and Women's teams, and youth soccer. He also co-hosts a podcast on the Colorado Rapids called 'Holding the High Line with Rabbi and Red.' He has written in the past for the Washington Post, Denver Post, The Athletic, and American Soccer Analysis. When he's not reading, writing, watching, or coaching soccer, he is an actual rabbi. No, really. You can find him on twitter at @soccer_rabbi

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