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Pitt women’s soccer drops home opener vs. Duquesne, 2-0

Pitt%27s+women%27s+soccer+team+suffered+its+fourth+straight+shutout+in+conference+play+against+Florida+State+.+Jeff+Ahearn+%7C+Senior+Staff+Photographer
Pitt's women's soccer team suffered its fourth straight shutout in conference play against Florida State . Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt's women's soccer team suffered its fourth straight shutout in conference play against Florida State . Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt's women's soccer team suffered its fourth straight shutout in conference play against Florida State . Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

By David Leftwich / Staff Writer

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The start of the regular season is normally an exciting time for players, but Pitt’s women’s soccer players put on a performance in their home opener Sunday they will want to quickly forget.

Coming off a season-opening 2-2 draw at Michigan Friday night, the Panthers (0-1-1) began a three-game home stand this past Sunday against their crosstown rival Duquesne Dukes (1-1-0) at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

Pitt still wanted revenge for a 1-0 loss in double overtime in the 2014 Steel City Classic after a one-year hiatus in the matchup between the two sides. Instead, Duquesne posted a 2-0 shutout to maintain bragging rights in the rivalry.

Despite committing a few early turnovers, the Panthers maintained the possession advantage over the Dukes, but struggled to create opportunities in the attacking third of the field.

“I think a big part is we didn’t support underneath as well as we could,” sophomore forward Sarah Krause said. “That made it difficult and there were gaps between the forward and midfield lines, so it made it difficult to get the offense going.”

These missed opportunities aided Duquesne in playing a counter attack style of offense where they pushed the pace and went for the big play.

Pitt’s best opportunity of the first half came off a free kick from the left side of the field just behind the eighteen-yard box.

A high arching kick deflected off Duquesne goalie Kyra Murphy’s gloves and into a mix of Pitt and Duquesne players. After a flurry of attempts close to the net, Murphy fell on top of the ball.

“You want to be able to capitalize on any moment, certainly capture any momentum in the game,” Pitt head coach Greg Miller said. “I thought it was just a missed opportunity for us.”

The Dukes got on the board first with seven minutes left to play in the first half.

In the 38th minute, Duquesne midfielder Casey Aunkst took a free kick about 35 yards from the goal, and forward Malea Fabean headed the service past Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis and into the back of the net.

The first half came to a close with the Dukes holding a 1-0 lead.

The second half played out similarly to the first, with the Panthers dominating possession but fizzling out in the attacking third of the field.

Pitt had one of its best chances to score on a set piece with 37 minutes left in the second half, but a header by first-year defender Ashley Paquet went high and wide of the net.

Duquesne kept the pressure on the Panthers through set pieces and quick counter attacks, and that strategy paid off again late in the second half.

With less than 10 minutes left in the game, the Dukes countered a Pitt free kick and drove down the field. A scramble in front of the net ensued, and Duquesne forward Katie O’Connor found the loose ball and beat Francis with an assist from forward Cydney Staton.

“We did a poor job marking in the box and didn’t hold our line,” said Francis.

Despite a few chances in front of the net in the second half, the Panthers couldn’t get anything by Murphy, who finished the game with eight saves.

Duquesne overcame a 19-10 shot differential and held on to win a 2-0 shutout, deliver the Panthers their first loss of the regular season.

“We’ll be fine, we just have to regroup, put this past us, and learn from the things we didn’t do well and be ready for Thursday,” Miller said.

The Panthers will be back in action at Ambrose Urbanic Field Thursday, Aug. 25, when they take on Colorado College at 7 p.m.

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Pitt women’s soccer drops home opener vs. Duquesne, 2-0