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Pitt women’s soccer finishes season in OT loss to NC State, 2-1

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Taylor Francis (00) had eight saves against NC State, finishing the season with 101 total. | Courtesy of Pitt Athletics

Taylor Francis (00) had eight saves against NC State, finishing the season with 101 total. | Courtesy of Pitt Athletics

Jeffrey Gamza

Jeffrey Gamza

Taylor Francis (00) had eight saves against NC State, finishing the season with 101 total. | Courtesy of Pitt Athletics

By Alessandro Conway | Staff Writer

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In the last act of a troubled season for the Pitt women’s soccer team, the Panthers’ hopes for an end-of-season revival were dashed by North Carolina State in overtime.

The Panthers (2-15-1, 1-9-0 ACC) came into Raleigh, North Carolina, after getting edged out 2-0 at home against Duke last Sunday, where Pitt’s stagnant offense produced only one shot on goal. NC State (10-7-1, 4-5-1 ACC) was also coming off a four-game losing streak.

Despite the team’s similar records, both had different motivations at the start of Thursday’s game. Pitt hoped to end its season on a high note by getting its second conference win of the season while NC State looked to secure an NCAA Tournament berth with a victory.

The Panthers started promisingly as they strung passes together deep into the Wolfpack’s territory, pushing NC State onto the back heel.

Senior left back Emily Pietrangelo shone from the onset in her last appearance for the Panthers. Perfectly taking down a complicated high clearance on the chest in the 37th minute, she beat two defenders before dishing out to teammate, first-year forward Christiana Davey. She was also aggressive on defense, producing some key tackles.

Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis, another senior from nearby Cary, North Carolina, provided some impressive saves early on but was powerless on a carefully constructed Wolfpack corner. In the ninth minute, a short corner found Ricarda Walkling at the top of the box wide open. Walkling picked out a cross to Kia Rankin, who headed it home from six yards out to bring the score to 1-0 NC State.

Following the goal, the Panthers looked dangerous in the 16th minute with two consecutive free kicks in the span of 45 seconds. Yet, junior midfielder Hanna Hannesdottir found the wall both times.

With just under 10 minutes of play left in the first half, Sarah Krause took advantage of a defensive mishap and scored a fantastic goal, her first of the season. After receiving a high cross from right back Arielle Fernandez inside the box, which bounced over the center backs, Krause turned and blasted the ball into the top left corner, tying the game, 1-1, for the Panthers.

Another defensive mistake, this time on the Pitt side, could have cost the Panthers dearly with two minutes left in the half. Sophomore defender Seyla Perez tripped before clearing a ball on the edge of the box, allowing Daria Draovitch to dribble in. Just as she was about to shoot, Pietrangelo darted across the box and stopped the Wolfpack attacker in a massive defensive play. The first half ended shortly after with the score at 1-1.

The Wolfpack, looking shaky after Krause’s impressive strike, returned from the locker rooms determined to score. On the first play of the half, NC State won a corner which forced Francis to produce a save off a close header from Cailyn Boch.

In the 56th minute, NC State’s Rankin powered her way through Pitt’s defense and went through on goal, yet Perez flew in with an impressive slide tackle in the box and cleanly got the ball, making up for her earlier slip.

With only 20 minutes left in regulation time, the Wolfpack began committing offensively, piling on the shots. The pressure was palpable as the fans on the sideline were audibly nervous.

Pitt resolutely held on as senior defender Siobhan McDonough thwarted the increasingly desperate NC State’s play. Likewise, Fernandez produced several timely interceptions and expertly contained the Wolfpack’s top scorer, first-year midfielder Tziarra King.

With extra time looming and the Panthers firmly on the defensive, Krause was instrumental in relieving pressure for her team by using deft skills to hold up play on offense. Regulation time ended with the teams still tied at 1-1.

Overtime started just as the second half ended with NC State driving forward. Two minutes after the whistle, King found Rankin free in the Panthers’ box and shot. Francis was there, however, with a game-saving parry, a staggering 101st for the season.

But there was nothing Francis could do in the fifth minute of overtime. An NC State corner from Hannah Keogh flew into the box and was met by Boch, who headed it into the roof of the net, keeping her team’s season alive but ending the Panthers’.

The Panthers finished their season with a 2-15-1 overall record and said goodbye to seniors Francis, McDonough, Fernandez, Pietrangelo and Niki Hopkins.

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Pitt women’s soccer finishes season in OT loss to NC State, 2-1