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No. 14 Pitt Women’s Soccer Dominates Drexel in Home Opener, 4-1

Pitt women's soccer forward Sarah Schupansky

PITTSBURGH — No. 14 Pitt women’s soccer took on Drexel in their first home game of the 2023 season Sunday afternoon at Ambrose Urbanic Field. They dominated throughout the game and easily won 4-1 to stay undefeated on the season.

The Panthers (2-0-0) make it five straight seasons with two wins to start the season, as they defeated the Buffalo Bulls on Thursday. The win for the Panthers is also the first ever against the Dragons (1-1-0), in just the second meeting between the two sides.

Pitt opened the scoring early in the eighth minute to take control of the game. Senior midfielder Chloe Minas tried to put a chip pass in, but it luckily defects off a Drexel senior defender Laila Payton’s head right to junior forward Sarah Schupansky, who dribbled in the box and slotted it to the right of Drexel graduate goalkeeper Joella Chase.

The Panthers shortly doubled their lead in the 12th minute, as junior forward Samiah Phiri created some separation and shot on goal. Chase managed to get both hands on the shot, but couldn’t deal with it early enough to keep it from going into her net.

Pitt immediately scored again in the 13th minute to go up 3-0. Redshirt senior forward Amanda West started the attack with a nice pass to fifth year forward Landy Mertz on the right side of the field. Mertz then passed it beautifully to Schupansky who powerfully shot it into the top of the net for an incredible goal.

The goals would finally finish in the start of the second half. Pitt first-year midfielder Deborah Abiodun placed a great pass through the Drexel defense to Mertz on the right wing, who then crossed it to a wide open West who easily scored to make it 4-0 in the 48th minute

The Dragons would get on the scoresheet in the 55th minute to avoid a true blowout. Fifth year forward/midfielder Annalena O’Reilly took a shot from far out that Panthers sophomore goalkeeper Ellie Breech had to get a hand on to. She managed to do so, but the ball bounced off the top of the bar and right to Dragons redshirt senior Gabrielle Perrotto. Perrotto’s weak shot landed at the feet of senior forward Delaney Lappin, who just tapped it in for the goal.

Pitt held on for the dominant win the rest of the way and didn’t allow Drexel to get any serious opportunities at all.

Schupansky, who scored her first two goals of the season against the Dragons, loved the effort from her team, especially early on and just getting on the scoreboard early.

“I just thought the team came out as sharp as we wanted,” Schupansky said. “We had an emphasis on coming out and getting an early goal and just putting our best foot forward right off the bat. A quick start against a solid team like Drexel. We watched the film, coaches prepared us well and we just went out and put all the effort in. It’s our first game in from of the home fans and just to be able to get a solid win in front of them was great.”

Panthers head coach Randy Waldrum noted the big difference between this game and on Thursday against Buffalo was the improvement of the first-year players that came in. With the early lead, that allowed him to have 25 of his 35 players compete in the game, with many making their debut for the Panthers.

He didn’t notice much of a drop off and with an early lead, that allowed him to make changes early on and allow those young players to gain some experience.

“I loved the mobility, the way we got behind the team, our possession and we got goals early, that’s what you want to do,” Waldrum said. “So I thought that part was really good. For only the second game of the season, I thought that looked really good.”

Abiodun, who played in the World Cup for Nigeria this past summer, made her first appearance for Pitt against Drexel. She played 39 minutes off the bench and made her first career assist on that fourth goal. Waldrum is excited to see what she can do this season and said that they have eased her into things at Pitt after she picked up an injury during the World Cup.

“Well, the thing she brings is something that we’ve lacked in midfield is a little bit of a physicality,” Waldrum said on Abiodun. “A player that can win the ball in midfield, she’s not afraid to tackle and she brings athleticism to us and she’s a very, very intelligent player. I think the more people watch her, I think the more they’ll appreciate how good she is. I don’t know if people could see today, but she got out of some really tight spaces, just with some simple, clean things that she did with the ball.”

Pitt will travel to MAC opponent Kent State this Thursday, Aug. 24 for the second away game of the season and will look to stay undefeated with a win once again.

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