Pitt women’s soccer returned to Ambrose Urbanic Field for their last home game of the season, but fell 2-0 to No. 4 Duke within the first 10 minutes of the game on Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers (2-14-1 overall, 1-7-1 ACC) struggled to keep Duke’s (13-3-2 overall, 7-1-1 ACC) offense away from the ball and ended up letting them take 18 shots in Pitt’s territory.
Before the start of the game, Pitt recognized seniors Arielle Fernandez, Taylor Francis, Niki Hopkins, Siobhan McDonough and Emily Pietrangelo, as well as the team’s senior manager Rosie Davidson, who took to their home pitch for the last time.
Once the ball hit the field, the Blue Devils took the early possession as their offense seemed to comfortably make its way around the Panthers’ defenders.
Only a few seconds shy of four minutes, an assist from Christina Gibbons led Duke forward Toni Payne to take a 18-yard high shot to the upper right corner of the goal to get the Blue Devils their first goal.
Quickly resuming play, Duke snagged the ball once again and continued to stump Pitt’s defense. In a moment of confusion, where the ball looked to be heading out of bounds in the 10th minute, Payne swiftly revived it and sent it to midfielder Ella Stevens for the team’s second goal.
“I thought both goals they scored were preventable — especially the second one — because we were all standing around thinking the ball was out of bounds, but it [wasn’t],” Pitt’s head coach Greg Miller said. “Duke kept playing, and we stopped, so just moments like that are really preventable.”
As the game continued to unfold, Duke challenged Francis, Pitt’s goalkeeper, with 15 shots on goal. But after a crushing first half of play, the Panthers’ defense rallied to keep the score locked and concluded the game with a 2-0 loss.
“It’s always nice to be able to help your team stay in games,” Francis said. “I just stayed focused. It’s easy when you’re getting a lot of action to stay in the game, but it was a nice way to go out. It stinks we lost, but it’s the best we’ve ever played against the team, so it was really fun to be apart of [this game].”
The team was able to hold Duke throughout the duration of the game but paled in comparison by only taking two shots, of which only one was on goal.
With this being the team’s home finale, both the players and Miller were hoping for a better outcome.
“I mean, obviously, I would’ve loved to have won, but you take everything in stride and take it for what its worth — and we played really well outside of the eight minutes where the two goals were scored, so I’m really proud of the team [and] it’s bittersweet to be ending it like this,” Francis said.
Miller acknowledged that the team’s season wasn’t over yet and that room for improvement in the last game was still possible.
“[We’re] looking forward to going down to N.C. State and playing a very good team and get[ting] some results so we can end the season on a positive note,” Miller said.
The Panthers will play their final game of the season on the road against North Carolina State on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m.