Pitt women’s soccer stumbles at Syracuse, 1-0


Sarah Krause (3) and the Pitt Panthers were unable to carry over the momentum from their double-overtime win over Miami against Syracuse on Sunday. Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

By Alessandro Conway | Staff Writer

With the Pitt women’s soccer team locked in a tense battle against the Syracuse Orange, the action stopped for a free kick in the 26th minute.

Syracuse defender Taylor Bennett stepped up and blasted a perfect shot into the top left corner of the net, notching the only goal that would count in the Sunday afternoon battle between these two conference opponents.

Coming off a thrilling double-overtime victory over Miami, the Panthers (2-12-1 overall, 1-6-0 ACC) looked to ride the momentum of their first ACC win into their first road win of the season in Syracuse, New York. But missed opportunities and a disallowed goal came back to haunt the team, and the Orange (8-5-3 overall, 1-4-2 ACC) triumphed in a hard-fought defensive battle, 1-0.

A jittery start for the Panthers saw first-year forward Christiana Davey clear a driven Syracuse shot off the goal line in the eighth minute.

The Panthers started to get more aggressive as sophomore forward Sarah Krause set the tempo for Pitt’s offense early on while also coming back on defense to help win back the ball.

Likewise, junior midfielder Hanna Hannesdottir consistently broke up Syracuse’s play in the center circle.

In the 12th minute, sophomore midfielder Juliana Vazquez found Krause in the Orange’s penalty box with a beautifully weighted pass. As Pitt’s forward was about to shoot, Syracuse defender Sydney Brackett flew in with a slide tackle and flattened Krause in the process.

Panthers head coach Greg Miller screamed at officials from the sideline, irate at the lack of a penalty.

Nevertheless, Pitt continued to create offensive opportunities as a shot from Krause took a dangerous deflection off of a defender in the 22nd minute and sent Syracuse keeper Courtney Brosnan sprawling.

Shortly after, Vazquez received a perfect cross from senior right-back Emily Pietrangelo, but Brosnan made the save.

Right when the Panthers seemed to be getting comfortable, Bennett’s 30-yard free kick sailed past Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis. It was a perfect shot, and there was nothing Francis could do to stop it.

Just like that, Syracuse had the lead, 1-0.

The goal stunned the Panthers, taking away their momentum and letting the Orange control the possession. Then, with less than 15 minutes left in the first half, Pitt timidly found its first real scoring opportunity after letting up.

Panthers first-year forward Cheyenne Hudson headed in a probing free kick from senior defender Alli Higgs. But the officials ruled Hudson offside and disallowed the goal.

On the cusp of halftime, sophomore defender Seyla Perez attempted a free header in the box after a corner kick from Hannesdottir, but sent it wide. The half ended with Syracuse in the lead and Pitt contemplating its missed scoring chances.

To start the second half, the Orange came out aggressively, trying to add to their lead. Less than two minutes in, forward Alex Lamontagne blasted a shot from inside the box just wide of the net.

Pitt came right back, as Hannesdottir found Perez free again on another corner kick, but Perez thumped her shot attempt right into Brosnan’s arms.

Hannesdottir –– who has played in all 15 matches this season and scored last week’s game-winning penalty kick –– came up injured after challenging for the ball halfway through the second half.

The Panthers missed her playmaking ability while searching for the equalizing goal late in the game.

Forced play on both sides created turnovers, and neither team took control of the ball or got a rhythm going as the half ensued.

The frustrated Panthers tried a more ambitious strategy, lofting long balls up the field instead of building up play through the short, crisp passes they utilized in the first half.

As the end of the game drew nearer, Syracuse caught Pitt off-balance pushing forward, leaving plenty of space in the defense. Francis kept the Panthers in the game with two massive saves, but they couldn’t even the score.

The game ended with the Orange on top, 1-0, but the Panthers may have lost more than just the game –– they may also be down one of their best players in Hannesdottir.

Pitt will return home to Ambrose Urbanic Field to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20.

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