Weekend Sports: Panthers soccer suffocated by top-ranked opponents


Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Sophomore defender Nyk Sesscock motions to the crowd to cheer after scoring Pitt’s first goal on UNC. Down one with only minutes left in regulation, the Panthers failed to make another goal on the Tar Heels, losing 2-1.

By Griffin Floyd, Staff Writer

Pitt athletics once again had a busy weekend with the swim and dive and cross country teams seeing action, as well as both soccer teams and the No. 4 women’s volleyball team.


Pitt volleyball had two games this weekend on its Florida road swing. Facing the Miami Hurricanes on Friday the Panthers won 3-0, although it was not without drama.

The Hurricanes forced the first set to extra points but the Panthers pulled out a 26-24 win and after losing in the second frame, 25-23, dominated the final set by a score of 25-17.

Junior Chinaza Ndee had 12 kills and 4 blocks, leading in both categories, and first-year player Lexis Akeo continued her steady offensive presence with 29 assists, also a team high.

Their road trip continued on Sunday against Florida State. Pitt won 25-15 in the first set, but the Seminoles were able to adjust in the second and third sets, suffering a tight loss 26-24 before breaking through 25-14.

But it would be the only set Pitt lost all weekend as the Panthers closed the Seminoles out 25-19 in the fourth set. Ndee and Akeo again led with 15 kills and 46 assists, respectively, and redshirt senior Hali Hillegas joined in on the fun defensively with 21 digs.

The Panthers are now 15-1 on the season and 4-0 in the ACC, with upcoming matches next weekend at Syracuse and Boston College.

Swim and dive

Pitt swim and dive spent the weekend in sunnier climates as well, taking part in the FIU TYR Classic at Florida International in Miami in its second meet of the season. The men’s team faced off against LSU and Army, while the women competed against LSU and FIU.

Sophomore Blaise Vera continued his dominant streak, taking part in four of the Panthers 10 gold medals, with times of 20.17 and 44.20 in the 50 and 100 freestyles. Vera also anchored the 400 yard medley relay (3:19.35, first place) and led off the 200 yard freestyle relay (1:21.41, first place). Junior Eben Vorster took part in the winning relays as well, in addition to taking home the gold in the 200 fly (1:46.90) and the 500 freestyle (4:32.50). Junior Samy Helmbacher showed his versatility as he won the 200 and 400 yard IM (1:49.87. 3:52.73 respectively).

Across the pool, first-year Daisy Anderson won two races for the women’s team — the 200 fly (2:03.08) and the 400 IM (4:22.83). Both teams finished second.

Men’s soccer

The men’s soccer team had a tough draw on Friday, as it welcomed No. 20 North Carolina to Ambrose Urbanic Field. The Tar Heels carried a 2-0 shutout into the 87th minute before sophomore defender Nyk Sessock was finally able to beat sophomore goalkeeper Alec Smir. Pitt’s goalkeeper, redshirt junior Arie Ammann, saved one shot on three attempts.

The Panthers are now 4-4-2 on the season and 1-2-1 in conference play, and will play two home games in the coming week, facing the Howard Bison on Monday, Oct. 7 and the Virginia Tech Hokies this Friday.

Women’s soccer

The women’s soccer team faced No. 6 Florida State in Tallahassee on Saturday, playing the powerhouse Seminoles tight in a 1-0 loss. Florida State snuck a penalty kick by redshirt junior goalkeeper Amaia Pena 1:35 into the game.

It was the only mistake the Panthers would make all game, but it proved to make the difference. Pena added four saves, but the Panthers couldn’t muster enough offense to support her.
The team is now 3-6-3 on the season, with an ugly 0-2-2 mark in conference play. It will face Boston College at home on Thursday, Oct. 10, and continue the homestand against No. 3 North Carolina on Sunday, Oct. 13.

Cross country

The men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled cross-state to Lehigh on Saturday to run the Paul Short Run. In the men’s 8k, senior Nick Wolk was Pitt’s top finisher, taking 22nd place with a time of 23:54.82.

Even though the men’s squad finished 13th out of a field of 46 with 381 points, it did so with an impressive spread — the fifth runner, Josh Higgins, was little more than a minute behind Wolk with a time of 24:58.91.

The women’s team took 19th place out of 45 teams with a score of 593. Senior Sam Shields was the leading finisher for the Panthers in the 6k race, placing 68th with a time of 21:02.14, barely edging out junior Ally Brunton (70th) by .18 seconds in a nail-biting three-way finish. Sophomore Devon Hoernlein and first-year Lily Robertson (133rd and 135th, 21:31.06 and 21:31.50) had a finish that mirrored Shields and Brunton.

Both cross country teams will have a two week rest until it travels to College Station this Saturday to take part in Texas A&M’s Arturo Barrios Invitational.