Second-ranked Seminoles dominate Pitt women’s soccer, 4-1

First-year+midfielder+Emily+Yaple+%2810%29+watches+FSU%27s+players+celebrate+after+scoring+their+third+goal+on+Pitt+during+the+Panthers+4-1+loss+to+the+Seminoles+on+Thursday+evening.+

Thomas J. Yang | Senior Staff Photographer

First-year midfielder Emily Yaple (10) watches FSU’s players celebrate after scoring their third goal on Pitt during the Panthers 4-1 loss to the Seminoles on Thursday evening.

By Alexander Ganias, Staff Writer

Pitt women’s soccer took a beating against no. 2 Florida State on a rainy Thursday night, falling 4-1. This marks the Panthers’ second loss of the season to a ranked opponent and their first defeat at home.

The Seminoles came into Pittsburgh riding a four-game winning streak, where they outscored their opponents 14-0. Head coach Randy Waldrum knew this would be a tough matchup going in.

“I think we knew going in that they were fully capable of doing what they did today,” Waldrum said.

The starting whistle sounded and FSU showed why it’s the second best team in the nation. The Seminoles dominated the offensive ball for most of the opening half. The Panther defense stood strong against the pressure for the first 10 minutes, until FSU sophomore midfielder LeiLanni Nesbeth took a shot from 25 yards out that beat every Panther defender. That goal gave the Seminoles a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute.

The rest of the half was laced with FSU shots that were either saved by Pitt’s first-year goalkeeper Caitlyn Lazzarini or went wide of the goal. The Seminoles played near suffocating defense — the only chance they allowed was a cross by sophomore forward Amanda West, which the Seminoles’ first-year goalkeeper Cristina Roque swallowed up.

The Seminoles kept momentum firmly on their side for almost the entire half, leaving the Panthers to play catch-up. Pitt finally broke through when West found a seam down the left side of the field in the 45th minute. She crashed toward the goal and crossed it to sophomore forward Madison Clayton, who one-timed Pitt’s first shot of the game past Roque for the equalizing goal.

The Panthers had momentum going into the second half and looked to capitalize off of the late first-half goal in the following period.

Momentum began to shift back to the Seminoles in the 55th minute, when first-year midfielder Emily Yaple got whistled for a foul. The resulting free kick was taken by FSU senior midfielder Malia Berkely, and she placed it right on the head of junior forward Kristina Lynch, who scored. However, the play was blown dead on an offside.

The referees then discussed the play — it was originally called offside, but the ball had glanced off a Pitt defender according to the refs. That nullified the offside call and the goal was counted, giving the Seminoles a 2-1 lead.

Pitt did not get its offense going in the second half. Every trip to the offensive zone resulted in an offside call or a turnover, and the defense could not make up for the lack of offense in the second half.

The Seminoles took advantage of a mistake the Panther defense made in the 69th minute. After a pass over the defense got to Lynch, Pitt couldn’t mark FSU sophomore forward Jenna Nighswonger, and Lynch found her for the insurance goal.

Pitt would concede another goal in the 80th minute. After FSU first-year forward Jody Brown’s shot deflected off a Pitt defender, the ball rolled right to Nighswonger and she chipped it over the defense and over the goal line. That would be the final nail in the coffin. After a couple of shots by FSU, the final horn sounded with the Seminoles taking the 4-1 victory.

Despite Thursday’s lackluster showing, Waldrum knows the Panthers are capable of bouncing back.

“We got to … be able to put that one behind us and come out with a good performance on Sunday, which I fully expect we can do. Our players have rebounded pretty well after a loss, in the next game,” Waldrum said.

The Panthers complete their homestand on Sunday with a matinee matchup against the Miami Hurricanes. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

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