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Budding with confidence, Pitt earns ‘well-deserved’ first-ever win vs No. 22 Duke, 2-1

Photo courtesy Pitt Athletics

FINAL:  Pitt 2, Duke 1 

Match Stats 

(Special thanks to PSN’s Rachael Kriger, who contributed the post match quotes from Ambrose Urbanic Field) 

Bringing relentless pressure from the start, Pitt walked away with an impressive 2-1 victory vs No. 22 Duke on Thursday night at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

In Pitt women’s soccer program’s first ever win against the Blue Devils, Samiah Phiri and Anna Bout each scored in a short span early in the second half.  The Panthers (10-2-1, 3-1-1 ACC) hung on, even after surrendering a 77th minute goal by conceding a penalty kick to the Blue Devils in a match where they were on the front foot for large portions.

“I thought for 65 minutes, we were clearly better. Possession was 57/43, we outshot them 20-7,” Pitt Head Coach Randy Waldrum said.

“It got a little dicey after the penalty kick. It’s not the way we wanted to close it out, but we hung on and got the win.  I thought we were better tonight, and it was a well-deserved win for us.”


Despite Pitt having a number of decent chances in the first half, where they held a 10-3 edge in shots and created a 6-1 advantage in the number of corner kicks, they couldn’t convert as the first 45 minutes ended scoreless.

“We were creating chances, but at the half, we discussed the importance of being more composed and clinical,” Waldrum added.

As the second half began, the Panthers didn’t let up, continuing on its hunt for goals by continuing to press high, disrupting Duke’s ability to try to play the ball out of the back and through the middle of the field.

Pitt’s high press finally paid dividends in a short period of time early in the second half.

In the 47th minute, Phiri found a deflected ball bounce her way just on the edge of the final third when midfielder Ellie Coffield broke up a Duke pass attempt through the middle.

Phiri took it from there, taking two touches with her right foot to get the ball under control, then calmly drove a left-footed shot from 26 yards that sailed past Duke goalkeeper Leah Freeman’s outstretched arms and into the upper right corner of goal.

“I’m usually right footed, but they pushed me the other way, so I said, let’s see what this left foot has,” Phiri explained, then chuckled.

“Yeah, I went to my left, and hit it.”

With the goal, Phiri is tied with fifth-year senior and Pitt’s all-time leading goal scorer, Amanda West, in the team lead this season, with six goals.

Not willing to relinquish the momentum, the Panthers quickly converted on another chance, from another disrupted Duke pass attempt played back from the width to the edge of the box, where Pitt forward Sarah Schupansky quickly took one touch with her inside right foot, angling a ball through for Anna Bout.

From there, Bout took a touch into the right side of the box, where she found some space 12 yards out, driving a right footed shot that went across the grain, and into the left side of goal, giving Freeman little chance to make the save.

Earlier in the match, Bout hit the crossbar on another solid strike.  This time, there was no doubt about it.

“I was just trying to get it on target. We were creating so many chances, that one was bound to go in,” Bout said.

With a 2-0 lead, Pitt would fall victim to a penalty, as Katie Zailski’s foul in the box gave the Blue Devils a fighting chance in the 77th minute.

Duke’s Kat Rader converted the PK to cut the lead to 2-1.

Phiri came off for a breather not too long after scoring the goal, but was sent back on by the coaching staff with the Panthers holding the one-goal lead, with one key instruction.

“Defend,” Phiri said.

“It was go all out, or go home. We put our hearts on the line, and defended hard.”

Pitt continued to push forward, creating more chances to put the match out of reach, but couldn’t convert.  Duke created a few counter moments, but each time, Pitt’s defenders and midfielders scrambled to deny any clear-cut chances in the run of play.

Beating Duke provided another new program milestone, one that players that include Bout, who came to Pitt along with fellow Canadian, Amanda West,  can cherish on one hand, but also now come to expect.

“Our first year we came in, we were hoping to tie, maybe squeeze out a win (against Duke),” Bout said.

“Now, we’re feeling confident. We know we’re better than these teams. To see the results come is a testament to our hard work and what we’ve done with this program.”

Randy Waldrum and his squad which continues to be budding with confidence, they’re only concerned with netting results while taking the program to even greater heights and setting a higher standard.

“We shouldn’t let the names on the jersey make us fear anybody,” Waldrum stated.

“We proved that last year, when we went to Notre Dame, and won there. They know they can play with anybody.  I don’t think some of the teams in the conference are as good as they’ve been.  So, I’ve said to them, ‘Why Not Us’. There’s no reason why we can’t be there in the end, and win the whole thing.  And it starts tonight. We had to come out with a positive approach, and I thought we did that from the opening whistle.”

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).

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