Pitt women’s soccer falls in double OT to Kent State, 2-1


Alex Wright and the Panthers fell to Kent State in double overtime, 2-1, on Sunday night. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

Pitt’s women’s soccer team struggled to find many scoring opportunities and fell to Kent State in double overtime, 2-1, Sunday night.

Despite a strong game from Pitt’s (1-6-1) young players on offense, Kent State (3-1-0) outshot the Panthers, 16-13, led by three shots apiece from forwards Karli Paracca and Jenna Hellstrom, the reigning Mid-American Conference offensive player of the year.

“I think we had moments of some good attacking play. I definitely thought that we fought, but we just didn’t play smart enough tonight,” head coach Greg Miller said. “At times we are very tight and organized and communicating, and other times we lacked that and those were the moments where we allowed them to create some chances.”

After a scoreless first half where the Golden Flashes outshot the Panthers, 6-3, Hellstrom broke the tie and put Kent State on the board in the 51st minute, beating Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis on a penalty kick.

Less than three minutes later, the Panthers responded.

Junior defender Niki Hopkins took a solid assist off a set piece from sophomore Kaylee Rabatin and put it past Kent State goalkeeper Ashleah McDonald, which tied the game for Pitt in the 54th minute.

The two teams seemed to be very evenly matched, as they drove into overtime with a score of 1-1 after several crucial saves from Francis in the final minutes.

“I actually thought we kept possession really well,” Francis said. “We did a really good job of connecting passes. Our tempo was just a tad too slow for what it needed to be for this game.”

The Panthers outshot the Golden Flashes, 3-1, in the first overtime period, but couldn’t find the winning goal. Then, in the second overtime, Paracca found it.

Francis originally made the save on Paracca in the 102nd minute, her 10th save of the game. But Kent State got the ball back after a rebound, and Hellstrom fed Paracca an assist for the game-winner in front of the net.

“We had more shots than we have had in the past, which is a good sign of progress,” Francis said. “Overall, it was a different team than we were earlier in the season so that’s always good.”

Both teams put on solid offensive performances and showed a drive to fight until the end. With over half of the Pitt women’s soccer team being underclassmen, the Panthers still managed to match Kent State’s intensity.

In the end, the 2-1 loss continued a lackluster start to Pitt’s season.

Next up, the Panthers begin conference play with a home game against Louisville on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.