Weekend Sports Recap: West’s OT header vaults women’s soccer to victory

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Weekend Sports Recap: West’s OT header vaults women’s soccer to victory

Pitt swept all four diving events on Saturday at a quad meet against Duquesne, Villanova and Youngstown State at home.

Pitt swept all four diving events on Saturday at a quad meet against Duquesne, Villanova and Youngstown State at home.

Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt swept all four diving events on Saturday at a quad meet against Duquesne, Villanova and Youngstown State at home.

Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt swept all four diving events on Saturday at a quad meet against Duquesne, Villanova and Youngstown State at home.

By Stephen Thompson, Assistant Sports Editor

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Pitt’s soccer programs posted a pair of historic wins this past weekend, but they still stare down the remaining gauntlet of ACC play. Meanwhile, Panthers volleyball continued to mow down weaker conference opponents and both swimming and diving teams combined for 25 event wins in a quad meet at Trees Pool.

Men’s Soccer

Friday night marked a series of milestones for the Pitt men’s soccer program. It notched its second conference win of the season, the first win in program history over No. 22 Virginia Tech and the first win over a top-25 team in more than a year.

And it did so in dominating fashion. The Panthers controlled possession and pace for all of the first 45 minutes, outshooting the Hokies 10-2 in the first half. They were unable to break through on the scoreboard despite constant pressure.

In the second half, Virginia evened the balance of power, but still found itself overpowered by the Panthers’ front line. In the 72nd minute, first-year forward Valentin Noel flew past a host of Hokie defenders and buried a shot in the bottom right corner. The Panthers then added two more scores from another first-year striker, Veljko Petkovic, and star junior forward Edward Kizza.

The Panthers return to action tomorrow night against rival Penn State. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Happy Valley.

Women’s Soccer

This past weekend brought a pair of ACC challengers to Ambrose Urbanic Field. Like its male counterpart, Pitt women’s soccer owned a long conference losing streak, the only difference being that its streak stretched back 1,096 days to Oct. 9, 2016, when the Panthers topped Miami 1-0 in overtime.

The Pitt women climbed out of their valley against Boston College on Friday night, thanks to some late game heroics from first-year forward Amanda West. With the score even at one goal a piece, the Panthers and Eagles went to overtime.

It took less than three minutes for senior defender Cheyenne Hudson to find West on a cross for the game-winning header.

But, as is typical in ACC women’s soccer, behind every victory is another tall challenge. The Panthers got one day of rest before a Sunday afternoon bout with No. 3 North Carolina.

The Panthers were stingy on offense in the first half, but made their lone shot count. Their only goal of the game came off of the foot of redshirt sophomore defender Vildan Kardessler in the 12th minute. She was assisted by West and first-year midfielder Anna Bout.

The home team nursed the slim margin for the remainder of the first half, but the second-half Tarheels responded quickly and furiously. Goals in the 49th, 56th and 76th minutes sealed a 3-1 victory.

Pitt gets the week to regroup after a busy weekend before it welcomes NC State for the conclusion of a three-game homestand on Saturday night. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

Volleyball

No. 3 Pitt volleyball breezed easily through a pair of ACC opponents this weekend away from Pittsburgh. The Panthers did not surrender a set this weekend against Syracuse and Boston College.

Against the Orange on Friday night, Pitt brought a balanced offensive attack. Five Panthers tallied five or more kills en route to a 3-0 thrashing of Syracuse. They handily out hit the home squad .313 to .067.

Next up, the Panthers ventured to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, for a date with Boston College. In a showdown of undefeated ACC teams, Pitt showed that it is still the class of the conference.

Pitt won three straight hard-fought sets by scores of 25-23, 25-22 and 25-23 to remain atop the ACC standings. Junior Chinaza Ndee led the Panthers with 12 kills and was joined by classmate Kayla Lund and senior Layne Van Buskirk in double figure kill totals. 

Redshirt senior libero Hali Hillegas posted a career high in kills with 24 and first-year setter Lexis Akeo added 44 assists.

Next weekend, the Panthers will return home for the first time in almost three weeks, when they welcome a pair of Tar Heel State opponents — North Carolina and NC State. 

Swimming and Diving

In a quad meet at Trees Pool with Villanova, Duquesne and Youngstown State, Pitt swimmers and divers collected 25 wins.

Junior Blaise Vera continued a sensational third year at Pitt by winning the 100-meter freestyle. He did so with a time of 50.10 — a mark good enough to qualify him for the 2020 USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials in June in Omaha, Nebraska.

Joining Vera in victory were seniors Valrie Daigenault, who won the 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley, and Samy Helmbacher, who took first in the 100- and 200-meter breast.

The Panthers were also victorious in the 400-meter medley relays and the 400-meter freestyle relays. 

Now, Pitt turns its focus to Michigan State, who will host the Panthers for their first traditional meet of the season on Friday night in East Lansing.

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