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NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup: Mt. Lebanon’s Mia Bhuta playing key role as freshman to help Stanford return to the Final Four

Photo courtesy Stanford Athletics

While Pittsburgh soccer fans will miss out on seeing the University of Pittsburgh women’s team competing in this weekend’s NCAA DI Women’s Soccer College Cup, as the Panthers came up one game short, Mt. Lebanon’s Mia Bhuta will have a chance to help the Stanford Cardinal raise another NCAA championship trophy.

The Cardinal (19-0-4) will face BYU (20-2-3) in one of the two NCAA Women’s Division I National Semifinal matches on Friday (approx. 8:30 p.m. -30 minutes after the first match | ESPNU).  The other final will feature two of Pitt’s ACC rivals, Florida State and Clemson (6 p.m. ET kickoff)

This season, Bhuta, who featured on USYNT’s squad that competed in the U17 Women’s World Cup in 2022, has been a regular presence as a key two-way player in the central, holding midfield position, playing in every one of Stanford’s 23 matches and starting all but one as one of the team’s leaders in minutes played.  Bhuta’s scored one goal but even more impressively, has been a strong defensive midfield presence for a squad that has only allowed 10 goals all season and posted 13 clean sheets.

This will be the Cardinal’s 12 appearance in the Women’s College Cup, where they’ve won two of the last six titles, with the last coming in 2019.

Bhuta, an early enrollee at Stanford, where she started taking college classes and joined the program last winter after graduating from Mt. Lebanon early, is part of a freshman class that has included three regular starters who’ve all had an impact in getting the Cardinal back to the College Cup.

The Cardinal are led by longtime coach Paul Radcliffe, who’s been impressed with Bhuta’s contributions this season.

“She covers a lot of ground,” Radcliff told Pittsburgh Union Progress earlier this Fall. “She’s winning tackles and then her passing ability is very strong, but the biggest thing, for me, is just her overall work ethic. She’s a competitor. She wants to win, and she’ll do anything for the team that is necessary.”

Pittsburgh soccer fans may recall that Bhuta was thrust into the spotlight in the Summer 2022, when she became the first Indian American to represent any US soccer team, when playing in her father’s home country of India.

In early 2022, Bhuta spoke to PSN about her selection to attend Stanford.

“At Stanford, their academic reputation is incredible.  In athletics, they’re always a constant competitor for national titles and they have a history of developing national team players,” Bhuta said at the time.

“The Stanford community, the people there, the professors, the coaches, they really push you to be the best you can be at your passions, to be better in society and make an impact on the world.”

Driven to succeed: Mia Bhuta takes well-traveled road to USWNT’s U-17 player pool

“I think just being at Stanford has been an incredible experience so far,” Bhuta most recently shared with Pittsburgh Union Progress.

The Cardinal, who defeated Nebraska, in Extra Time in the Elite Eight, will face BYU, who scored one of the most incredible comebacks in NCAA tournament history, when they roared back from 3-0 deficit, to defeat North Carolina in the Quarterfinal round match last Friday night.

The winner of that match, will face the ACC showdown winner between Florida State and Clemson, two teams responsible for four of Pitt’s five losses this season.

All of the Women’s College Cup matches will air on ESPNU and can be streamed on ESPN+.

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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