Preview | No. 14 Pitt women’s soccer preps for major ACC test at No. 3 North Carolina


Hannah Wilson | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt women’s soccer players celebrate after a win against Miami on Sept 22.

By David Scott, Staff Writer

Fresh off a five-game win streak, No. 14 Pitt is headed down to North Carolina for a matchup against the No. 3 Tar Heels. The Panthers are undefeated in ACC play this season, and North Carolina is Pitt’s highest-ranked opponent so far.

North Carolina is 9-3 on the season and 2-2 in ACC play going into its matchup against Pitt. Despite the strong start, the Tar Heels are coming off a 2-1 loss at Virginia Tech. They are overpowering their opponents this season, outscoring them 29-9, equivalent to 2.42 goals per game versus their opponent’s .75 goals per game. North Carolina is also getting 18.2 shots off per game, with 44.5% of those being on goal.

Pitt, whose record sits two games better at 11-1, are undefeated through four ACC matchups and looking to improve upon their win streak. The Panthers enter the match against North Carolina coming off a 1-0 win at home against Louisville.

Like the Tar Heels, the Panthers have overpowered their opponents — even more so than North Carolina. The Panthers are outscoring opponents 40-9, equal to 3.33 goals per game versus their opponents .75 goals per game. Pitt is also rifling off 20 shots per game with 48.3% of those being on goal, both numbers being slightly above North Carolina.

The Panthers offensive prowess comes from a high powered group of forwards. Pitt’s well-rounded attack features three forwards with at least five goals and four assists. 

Senior forward Leah Pais played in every game this season, but only started four of those games for 660 minutes. Pais leads the team with seven goals and complements those with four assists, an impressive total for her number of starts. Pais’ seven goals are tied for third most in the ACC.

Sophomore forward Sarah Schupansky started 11 of the Panthers’ 12 games this year. In her 769 minutes she buried five goals and leads the team with six assists. Schupansky also leads the Panthers in shots, with 18 of her 40 shots being on goal. Her six assists are tied for third most in the ACC.

Senior forward Amanda West was red hot to start the season, notching six goals and three assists in the first six games. Unfortunately for the Panthers, she is sidelined for the rest of the year with a knee injury. Pais stepped up in her place and took advantage of the opportunity.

Senior midfielder Landy Mertz started every game this season and is one of the most productive players on the team. In 854 minutes she’s scored six goals and provided four assists. Mertz leads the team with four game-winning goals.

Sophomore midfielder Ellie Coffield has also started every game. She’s played 965 minutes, the most on the team, and provided three goals and three assists, along with one game winner.

Senior midfielder Anna Bout is feeding the ball forward, and is tied with Schupansky for the team lead in assists, each with six. She also scored a goal this season, adding to her impressive statline.

Goalkeeping might be Pitt’s biggest strength so far this season. Senior keeper Caitlyn Lazzarini hasn’t missed a start this year, logging 936 minutes. She’s allowed just eight goals through 12 games for an average of .77 goals allowed. That number is good for fifth best in the ACC. Lazzarini saved 32 shots for an 80% save percentage.

On the flip side, North Carolina has similar strengths. The Tar Heels’ starting goalkeeper, first-year Emmie Allen, only allowed six goals so far this season for a .70 goals allowed average. Allen has 23 saves for a 73.9% save percentage in 775 total minutes.

Tar Heels junior Avery Pattinson plays everywhere on the field and, because of that, scored seven goals with two assists on 39 shots in 699 minutes. Pattinson has three game winners in her 12 games.

North Carolina has a strong roster that will provide a challenge for the Panthers. The match is also a great opportunity for Pitt to move up in the rankings once again. The team jumped from unranked to No. 14 in just one set of polls. A win over the No. 3 ranked team could see the Panthers move into the top 10, maybe even the top five.

Fans can watch the ACC matchup on the ACC Network at 7 p.m. on Thursday.