The Pulse of Pittsburgh Soccer is back as we reach the late postseason for high school and college soccer in the region, as both Pitt men and women’s teams have a chance to make some noise this weekend, and five WPIAL high schools have teams that will play for the PIAA (State) Championship games in Mechanicsburg.
Pitt women put on an impressive display on Saturday night, blitzing Ohio State by a 6-0 margin. PSN’s Dom Campbell was there, and had match report along with reaction from Head Coach Randy Waldrum and Landy Mertz, as the Panthers won their third ever NCAA tournament game (in two appearances).
It was an emblematic win for a team that has many contributors who have made the Panthers one of the highest scoring teams in the country, which I wrote about ahead of the Ohio State win (and they back it up with a six goal output!).
Earlier this week, PSN contributors Rachael Kriger and Campbell also joined me on a new episode of Sounding Off on Soccer, to talk about the Pitt women, Pitt men, while I also contributed a tribute to Riverhounds SC forward, Albert Dikwa, who was named as the USL Championship’s Player of the Year. (The Hounds — by the way — are racking up the League’s post season awards, as Arturo Ordonez was named Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, and Bob Lilley tabbed as Coach of the Year on Wednesday). Look for more to come this coming week, as I will be talking with Riverhounds SC’s Dan Visser, who’s been appointed as Sporting Director for the club after seven and a half seasons as Assistant Coach.
Turning back to Pitt women, they’ll have to turn the page, and quickly prepare for a tough test, playing Friday, at No. 2 (in the region) Arkansas. The Razorbacks looked equally impressive in dispatching Grambling, 5-0, and will be on their home field. On the other side of the same bracket, also making the trip to Arkansas this weekend, will be Notre Dame and Memphis.
Rachael also penned this feature, on Wednesday, on Pitt’s fifth year senior, Ashton Gordon, who’s the veteran leader of the defensive corps and previously played at Arkansas.
Pitt men’s team stumbled down the stretch, but kept its heads above water against the toughest schedule in DI men’s soccer, and as a reward for their 6-6-4 campaign to this point, they’re in the tournament –– and will host a very good James Madison side at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Thursday night.
The winner will get Georgetown, in Washington D.C. on Sunday afternoon.
Unlike the women’s side, Pitt’s men have been struggling to find go-to scorers all season long. The Panthers entered the NCAA tournament a season ago pushing to find its form, then caught fire once they got going with an early first round win at home vs Cleveland State, then upset Akron and Kentucky, on the way to its second College Cup appearance in three seasons. With veteran Head Coach Jay Vidovich at the helm, senior leadership that includes the program’s all-time assists leader, Filip Mirkovic, and with more than two weeks between matches, the Panthers had plenty of rest to heal up and time to prepare for making another deep run in the tournament. Dom Campbell will be reporting for PSN at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Thursday night.
Heading into the PIAA playoffs, there was some uncertainty surrounding WPIAL teams chances in many classifications in making it to Mechanicsburg for the State Finals, but after Tuesday’s results, the Pittsburgh region has five teams playing for state championships this weekend.
Considering there hasn’t been any real dominant team this season, maybe Avonworth girls in 2A, that’s still a pretty solid showing for PIAA’s District 7. On the boys side, it will be Quaker Valley (2A) and Charleroi (1A), two programs which are polar opposites as far as making State Title game appearances. With its 1-0 win on Tuesday vs Central Columbia, the Quakers are headed to its 15th State title match, while Charleroi will be making their first-ever appearance.
On the girls side, it’s another strong showing for the WPIAL, led by some of the big names, including Lola Abraham (who scored four goals in the semifinal win) also leading Riverview to its first-ever PIAA finals appearance in 1A, while Fiona Mahan scored a couple times from distance against Shady Side Academy to put Avonworth in its second PIAA final in three years. Moon is the only defending PIAA champion to return, as they defeated Mars on Tuesday, 1-0, thanks to a late Sydney Felton redirect.
Look for coverage to come on Friday from Mechanicsburg — as we will be partnering with our friends from Philadelphia Soccer Now to bring coverage of the Class 2A boys and girls matches.
Pittsburgh Soccer Schedule (11/16/2023 – 11/19/2023)
Thursday, November 16
7 p.m. — NCAA DI Men’s Soccer Tournament First Round: Pitt vs James Madison (Ambrose Urbanic Field)
Friday, November 17
11 a.m. — PIAA Class 2A Girls Championship – Avonworth vs Central Columbia (Eagle View MS, Mechanicsburg)
1:30 p.m. — PIAA Class 2A Boys Championship – Quaker Valley vs Camp Hill (Eagle View MS, Mechanicsburg)
7:30 p.m. — NCAA DI Women’s Soccer Tournament: Pitt at Arkansas (Fayetteville, AK)
Saturday, November 18
11 a.m. PIAA Class 1A Girls Championship– Riverview vs Dock Mennonite (Eagle View MS, Mechanicsburg)
1:30 p.m. PIAA Class 1A Boys Championship – Charleroi vs Delco Christian (Eagle View MS, Mechanicsburg)
4 p.m. PIAA Class 3A Girls Championship – Moon vs Abington Heights (Eagle View MS, Mechanicsburg)
Sunday, November 19
IF NECESSARY – NCAA DI Men’s Soccer Tournament Second Round: If Pitt wins on Thursday, they’ll face Georgetown on Sunday at Noon
IF NECESSARY – NCAA DI Women’s Soccer Tournament Second Round: If Pitt wins on Friday, they’ll face Notre Dame/Memphis winner on Sunday at 7 p.m.