West scores twice in return, Panthers take down Eagles 3-0 despite weather delay

Pitt%E2%80%99s+Anna+Bout+%2812%29+fights+for+possession+of+the+ball+against+Boston+College%E2%80%99s+Sam+Smith+%289%29+at+Ambrose+Urbanic+Field+on+Thursday+night.+

Carlo Zollinger | Staff Photographer

Pitt’s Anna Bout (12) fights for possession of the ball against Boston College’s Sam Smith (9) at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Thursday night.

By Alexander Ganias, Staff Writer

Pitt women’s soccer kicked off their final stretch of home matches for the season with a 3-0 win against the Boston College Eagles.

The Panthers (10-6, 3-5 ACC) came into this match having won their last match 4-2 over the Syracuse Orange on the road, which was only their second conference win out of seven. Assistant Coach Ben Waldrum said these final matches are vital to their playoff goals.

“We feel like the [NCAA] tournament started three weeks early for us, because every game is meaningful,” he said. “These are games that are winnable for us, it just comes down to our performance.”

The match started slowly, with each team’s defense holding strong. Boston College (7-8-1, 1-7 ACC) recorded the first shot on goal of the match, when graduate student forward Abby McNamara fired a shot from distance, but Pitt senior goalkeeper Katherine Robinson easily saved it. She would finish the half with two saves.

Pitt had chances to respond but couldn’t find the back of the net in the first half. Their best chance came in the 10th minute, when junior midfielder Anna Bout sent a pass across the 18-yard box to first-year midfielder Ellie Coffield. The first-year had an opportunity for an early goal but headed the ball just wide of the net, keeping the match scoreless. 

Outside of the attempt from Coffield, the Panthers couldn’t really get anything going on offense. Despite outshooting the Eagles 13-3 in the half, most of their shots were rushed and off target. The Panthers were also called offside four times in the opening frame. Waldrum understood that they had to clean up the early mistakes.

“I thought we played fairly well, we just didn’t create enough chances,” he said. “We weren’t real dangerous in the final third.”

Bout had another chance in the 29th minute, but her header floated into BC junior goalkeeper Wiebke Willebrandt’s gloves. Willebrandt finished the half with two saves. 

The Eagles followed that up with some pressure in the Pitt defensive zone, but they couldn’t register a shot on goal. Pitt junior forward Landy Mertz came close to scoring in the 40th minute, but her shot didn’t curl enough and it went out-of-bounds for a goal kick. The half ended with the two sides tied at zero.

Rain started to fall during halftime, but not enough to stop play. The Panthers came right out of the gate in the second half with an offensive opportunity in the 47th minute, but they were whistled offside. The game remained without a goal as lightning appeared in the distance.

The Panthers got their first real chance of the second half in the 60th minute, when junior forward Amanda West got tripped in the box. The referee awarded her a penalty kick, which she buried to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. 

Shortly after West found the back of the net, the skies truly opened up and the match went into a weather delay. The ref signaled for everyone to make their way to the locker room and the PA announcer directed the fans to leave the venue and wait in their cars until further notice.

The storm eventually passed a little over an hour after the game had been paused and the teams made their way back onto the field. But the Panthers looked rusty coming out of the delay, and they allowed some prime scoring chances for the Eagles.

The first of these chances came in the 66th minute, when sophomore midfielder Sonia Walk gained possession of the ball three yards away from the net, but she couldn’t get her foot squared and her shot went over the net. Eagles first-year forward Ella Richards had another chance two minutes later. This shot was from further away, but it too went wide of the net. 

Waldrum admitted that the delay affected the players, especially after their last match was delayed two days due to inclement weather in Syracuse.

“I mean, yeah, BC was on top of us in the first five minutes [after the delay],” he said. “It breaks up your rhythm, but we responded after the slow start. Perhaps the hour delay was nothing to us.”

The Panthers eventually forced BC out of their defensive zone, and returned to pressuring its defense in the 73rd minute. Mertz dribbled the ball around several defenders and into the box, where she crossed the ball to a sliding West, who beat Willebrandt and scored her second goal of the match.

West played in her first match since Pitt’s road contest against Miami. She said a performance like tonight’s was a long time coming.

“It feels good to be back, I’ve been waiting for this for a month,” she said. “I just couldn’t wait to get back onto the field again and play with my teammates.”

The Panthers were not done scoring yet. Sophomore midfielder Chloe Minas bounced a pass to fellow sophomore midfielder Emily Yaple in the 86th minute. Yaple proceeded to bicycle kick her shot over Willebrandt’s outstretched hands and into the goal for Pitt’s third and final tally of the match. Her teammates swarmed her after the goal, and the final horn sounded four minutes later.

With two games left in the season, West put her team’s objective in simple terms.

“We’ve got to win,” West said. “We’re playing at home, and we feel confident. This last four-game stretch we believe are very winnable games, and if we perform well we can get the results.

The Panthers will play at home on Sunday and face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The match will start at 1 p.m. and stream on ACC Network Extra.

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