Amanda West is just getting started


Image via Pitt Athletics

First-year forward Amanda West is the first Pitt women’s soccer rookie to earn ACC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

By Ben Bobeck, Staff Writer

Most first-year students spend their first week at school trying to get acclimated to their new environment — buying books, figuring out the locations of classes and meeting new friends.

But first-year forward Amanda West has looked right at home since the moment she stepped on the field for Pitt women’s soccer, leading the team like a veteran and re-writing the team record books along the way.

Her debut appearance for Pitt women’s soccer was as close to perfection as possible — the Canadian phenom turned in a hat trick, including the game-winning goal in Pitt’s thrilling 5-4 victory over Loyola Marymount. It was the first hat trick by any Pitt player since the 2015 season, and the first debut hat trick by a first-year player in program history.

West provided the heroics again two days later, this time in the form of a second overtime golden goal in the Panthers’ 1-0 win at Bucknell.

West’s incredible start led her to be named ACC Offensive Player of the Week on Aug. 27 — becoming the first Pitt rookie to claim the title and just the second Panther in program history after Taylor Pryce in 2015.

West, who was born in Sweden before moving to Ontario as a child, credited the team’s early arrival on campus as a huge factor in their hot start to the season.

“The team had to come in in June, so I definitely think that helped with the adjustment,” West said. “We brought in 21 new people to the team this year, so everyone’s new. There’s a whole lot of fresh faces, so I think coming in early and getting to know each other for two months before our season started was definitely helpful.”

Of the 21 new members in the program brought in by second-year head coach Randy Waldrum, 17 are first-years. With her work ethic, studious approach and high ambition, West has brought “a breath of fresh air” into a transitioning program, according to Waldrum.

Pitt fell back to Earth a bit after those first two wins, dropping its next two outings to Dartmouth and UMass each by a score of 2-1 before returning home with a 1-1 draw against Rhode Island and a 2-0 win over Saint Joseph’s. West notched points in every game, bringing her total to 17  — comprised of seven goals and three assists — and extending her run of recording a point in every match she has played in.

Both West and Waldrum said they understand how this season, along with West’s stretch of consistent breakout performances, have started to set the stage for a massive jump — not just for her, but the entire program.

“I think she’s going to be the lynchpin that’s gonna kinda carry us through this season a little bit offensively,” Waldrum said. “Next year with the recruiting class, we hope we get her some more help offensively, but I’d be shocked if her four-year career is not very steady like this.”

To put West’s impact in perspective, the Panthers have netted 11 goals so far this season. Seven of them have come off of West’s foot. Four other players each have one, with West tallying the assist on three of them. Even when widening the scope beyond just offensive output, West has totaled 29 shots, 20 of which registered as shots on goal. Senior midfielder Juliana Vazquez and sophomore winger Anna Rico are tied for second on the team with four shots on goal.

Ben Waldrum, Pitt’s associate head coach and Randy Waldrum’s son, said West brings new skills with her this year that make her such a special player on the field.

“You guys obviously see her pace, she’s dynamic, she’s good around goal,” Ben said. “And that’s something we didn’t really have last year.”

But when a team’s entire offensive attack is dependent on one player, especially a first-year, that can be an issue — even when said player is ready to carry the pressure as much as the team needs.

“There’s some young players that come in and they just seem to be like veteran players, and there’s other young players that need a little time to really find their place and what their importance is to the team,” Randy said. “But I think she thrives on that, I think she’s the one that doesn’t shy away.”

Randy specifically pointed out West’s comments to the team during the break before overtime in the match at Bucknell as evidence of how quickly she stepped into a leading role among her teammates.

“She was the one that said something like ‘We’re winning this game, we’re not tying this game,’” Randy said. “I thought that said a lot about her and her character makeup.”

When Pitt announced its initial recruiting class, days after a disappointing season ended last fall, Randy was already talking about West’s ability, saying, “Amanda is a goal-scorer. She has tremendous pace, composure and ability in and around the goal that will have an immediate effect on the 2019 team.”

Randy, who coached two national championship teams in his tenure at Notre Dame as well as serving as the U.S. women’s national team U-23 coach, said he is excited to see the player that West will become, with expectations as high as appearances for the Canadian national team and the possibility of a professional career someday.

Both player and coach already have an eye to the future, as West said she anxiously awaits the chemistry she expects to develop and the results that will follow.

“I’m looking forward to the future of this program,” West said, “not just this season but the next four years here, because I know we’re going to get really good and I can’t wait for that.