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Pulse of Pittsburgh Soccer: Pitt women are absolutely elite; Thankful Riverhounds, Bob Lilley honored by City of Pittsburgh plus NCAA DII and DII updates

Photo courtesy Pitt Athletics

The Pulse of Pittsburgh Soccer returns as there’s still some soccer to look forward to this week (and next — more on that below) as Pitt women’s soccer team are still dancing on to the Elite Eight, where they have a big match vs No. 1 Florida State on Friday, plus area soccer teams and players are getting some well-deserved recognition for achievements in 2023.

Among the special acknowledgements came on Monday, when the City of Pittsburgh City Council honored the Riverhounds and head coach Bob Lilley for their successful season on the pitch on Monday.

The proclamation dubbed Monday as ‘Riverhounds and Coach Bob Lilley Day.’

Coach Lilley was also honored for reaching 100 wins with the Riverhounds and being named USL Championship Coach of the Year.

“I think we’ve changed a lot about soccer in this city, but also in the region,” Lilley said. “It’s nice to see the Riverhounds getting a lot of attention and it was a great year this year.”

The Riverhounds won their first Championship Players’ Shield in franchise history this season.

Also being recognized, was Lola Abraham, who was honored as the fifth Moe Rosensteel Player of the Year recipient, as outstanding High School girls soccer player in the region.

Lola Abraham is honored as 2023 Moe Rosensteel Award winner for scoring prowess and impact in rebuilding Riverview girls soccer program

Not only did Abraham score goals at an astounding rate (77 for the season, 176 for her career), but she helped with bringing unprecedented success to her High School’s soccer program, which remarkably, didn’t even field at team in her freshman season (2020).

Abraham was also one of 12 WPIAL girls players who were honored as All-State selections, announced on Tuesday.

Pennsylvania High School Girls Soccer All-State selections announced

In addition, this weekend will see Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association All-Star Games being played on Saturday, November 25, at Pine-Richland High School.  The rosters have been shared recently, and the matches will feature one match between Class 1A-2A players, and another between Class 3A-4A players.

Also, would like to use this space for a quick shout out to Gannon men’s and women’s soccer programs — as- they’ve both reached the NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Tournament’s Round of 16, where the men will take on traditional Division II power, Charleston (WV), on November 30 and the Women’s team face cross-state rival, West Chester, on December 1.  WPIAL players who are part of Gannon’s men’s squad include Elijah Cincinnati (Trinity), Ty Patterson (Charleroi) and Jake Zimmerman (Franklin Regional).  Women’s players from WPIAL including Morgan Sinan (Seneca Valley), Gabby Boden (Butler), Jamie Seneca (Plum), Logan Nicklas (Hampton).

Gannon pulled off the upset of the women’s tournament, when they beat No. 1 Charleston last weekend as Nicklas, a senior forward, scored once in the first half and once in the second half.

In case you were wondering, in Division III women’s side, one Pittsburgh area team made the NCAA tournament, Carnegie Mellon, did win their first round match (1-0 vs Washington & Lee), but lost 2-0 in the second round to NYU.  On the men’s side, only Geneva made it from the PAC, losing 1-0, to Franklin & Marshall, in the first round.

The last team standing in Pittsburgh area soccer scene this season, is the team that Abraham will be playing with soon — and it is probably no surprise to those who’ve seen them play this season — and definitely not a surprise to me — that’s Pitt’s women’s soccer team are making a big splash in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament, following a very successful road trip to Arkansas.

What a weekend it was — as the Panthers defeated the regional hosts, Arkansas (ending a 32-match home unbeaten streak), in a thrilling, 4-3 win, with Ellie Coffield hitting the equalizing and game-winning goals in the second half.  The Panthers followed that win with a resounding second half en route to a 3-0 win vs Memphis.

If you look at the other seven teams remaining in the Women’s Soccer Tournament (Stanford, Nebraska, Penn State, Florida State, North Carolina, Clemson, BYU)– it’s is basically a who’s who of the top college women’s soccer programs in recent years.

But, based on the success they’ve had, the talent and roster they’ve assembled with the leadership and coaching from Randy Waldrum, Ben Waldrum and Jesse Goleman, the Panthers absolutely belong in this group.  They’ve been knocking doors down and not getting any respect in polls, rankings and in their seedings, but every time this season they’ve defied the notion that they are not an elite program.

They’re absolutely elite and will get a chance to move on to the College Cup on Friday — but once again — due to their (questionable!!??) seeding and bracket set-up, they’ll have to take on No. 1 Florida State in the National Quarterfinal Round to advance.

Beating a team three times in one season is never easy, and Florida St probably is well aware that the Panthers possess the type of attacking options that will give them plenty of headaches and can stand in the way of the Seminoles’ making another trip to the College Cup.

If the Panthers can pull off a win at Florida State, they’ll be headed to their first-ever College Cup.

We’ll also be watching the rest of the Quarterfinal Round match-ups closely too, as there are Pittsburgh/PA connections all over.  Mia Bhuta and Stanford, Tessa Dellarose and UNC are still alive — as is Penn State.

Look for more coverage to come on Pitt vs Florida State here on Pittsburgh Soccer Now.  

PITTSBURGH SOCCER CALENDAR (11/24/2023 – 12/1/2023)  

Friday, November 24

5 p.m. — NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Quarterfinal:  Stanford vs Nebraska — Palto Alto, CA

5:30 p.m.  — NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Quarterfinal:  Pitt at Florida State — Tallahassee, FL

8 p.m. — NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Quarterfinal: BYU vs North Carolina — Provo, UT

Saturday, November 25 

12 p.m.  — WPSCA Boys All Star Game (Class 1A vs Class 2A) — Pine Richland High School

1 p.m. — NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Quarterfinal: Clemson vs Penn State — Clemson, SC

2 p.m. — WPSCA Boys All Star Game (Class 3A vs Class 4A) — Pine Richland High School

Thursday, November 30 

1 p.m.  — NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Round of 16 — Gannon vs Charleston (WV)

Friday, December 1 

1 p.m.  — NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Round of 16 — Gannon vs West Chester

5 p.m.  — Women’s College Cup National Semifinal — Cary, NC

8 p.m.  — Women’s College Cup National Semifinal — Cary, NC


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).

Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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