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Women’s soccer devastated by Notre Dame, 4-0

Despite+five+saves+from+Pitt+goalkeeper+Taylor+Francis%2C+the+Panthers+lost+to+Notre+Dame%2C+4-0%2C+on+Sunday.+Jeff+Ahearn+%7C+Senior+Staff+Photographer
Despite five saves from Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis, the Panthers lost to Notre Dame, 4-0, on Sunday. Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

Despite five saves from Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis, the Panthers lost to Notre Dame, 4-0, on Sunday. Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

Despite five saves from Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis, the Panthers lost to Notre Dame, 4-0, on Sunday. Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

By Ashwini Sivaganesh | Assistant Sports Editor

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The Pitt women’s soccer team suffered its third shutout loss in as many conference games Sunday afternoon.

The Panthers (1-9-1, 0-3-0 ACC) fell to the No. 24 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1-3, 2-0-1), 4-0, in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame stormed out to a four-goal lead in the first half, then kept control of possession while holding off Pitt’s offense in the second half.

The Fighting Irish entered the game second-to-last in scoring offense in the ACC with 1.3 goals per game, but held the second-best goals against average with just five goals allowed in 10 games, for an 0.5 average.

Notre Dame’s defense was stingy as usual, but the offense took control of the game from the start.

Less than five minutes into the game, the Fighting Irish secured a corner kick opportunity. Defender Monica Flores took the kick and sent it soaring toward the goal box, where forward Kaitlin Klawunder was waiting to head the ball into the net for the first goal of the game.

With the Fighting Irish threatening to create an unrecoverable advantage, the Panthers started to retaliate.

But Notre Dame goalkeeper Kaela Little was stellar, as she has been all season. She swiftly blocked a shot by Pitt midfielder Juliana Vasquez, before forward Sarah Krause’s shot went wide.

In the 14th minute, the Fighting Irish found the back of the net once again.

First-year forward Jennifer Westendorf took a cross from midfielder Kaleigh Olmsted and beat Panthers goalkeeper Taylor Francis from six yards out for her fifth goal of the season. Pitt tried to regain momentum, but Olmsted took a cross from defender Natalie Ward and headed it into the net in the 18th minute for her first goal of the season to make it 3-0.

From that point on, the Panthers struggled to keep the ball in possession.

The Fighting Irish kept control of the ball in Pitt’s territory, and with less than seven minutes left in the half, Notre Dame forward Karin Muya put the game out of reach with a header on a cross from teammate Meghan Doyle.

Neither team put together any real scoring chances after halftime, but the Fighting Irish continued to dominate possession and outshot the Panthers 8-2 in the second half and 23-5 for the game.

This marked the third ACC game in a row in which Pitt not only lost, but failed to score a goal, meaning if the Panthers are playing to be championship contenders, they need to stay motivated on offense and close the holes on defense.

Pitt returns home to Ambrose Urbanic Field for its next game against the No. 15 Florida State Seminoles at 2 p.m. Oct. 1.

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Women’s soccer devastated by Notre Dame, 4-0