Pitt women’s soccer wins fourth consecutive city game against Duquesne thanks to strong defense


Hannah Wilson | Assistant Visuals Editor

Graduate defender Hailey Davidson (11) kicks the ball at the Pitt women’s soccer game against UMass on Aug. 25 at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

By Ari Meyer, Staff Writer

Pitt women’s soccer defeated Duquesne 3-1 in the third game on its 2023 spring soccer schedule thanks to a strong defensive performance. With the win, Pitt extended its City Game win streak to four

The Panthers controlled play for most of the game, allowing for creativity with their shot-taking. A goal on a penalty kick by sophomore midfielder Ellie Coffield set the Panthers up for success early, letting them play with confidence for the rest of the match. The Panthers contained the Dukes’ defensive efforts early, mitigating their offense in the latter part of the first half.

In the second half, the Panthers came out strong, scoring on another penalty kick by sophomore forward Samiah Phiri. The Dukes finally broke through Pitt’s defense a few minutes later with a goal of their own. The Panthers were out of sorts following Duquesne’s goal, and offensive miscommunication pulled them out of position. Pitt quickly one-upped its counterpart with a powerful shot from the top of the box by Coffield, which led to a final score of 3-1.

Here are three key takeaways from the matchup.

Ellie Coffield’s playmaking abilities

Coffield made a significant impact on the Panthers’ offense. The WPIAL product from Mars, Pa. really came into her own last season, starting 14 of 18 games and putting 16 shots on goal. 

It’s clear that her experience from last season gave her confidence going into the match against Duquesne. After her teammate, senior striker Landy Mertz, drew a foul within the penalty box, Coffield stepped up to the line and scored. Coffield made it look easy as she drilled the ball into the top right corner. In the second half, she dribbled through a defender and kicked a deep ball into the corner of the net for a brace.  

Not only did Coffield score, but she provided many set-up passes in the Panthers’ attacking zone. She created opportunities for her teammates by splitting the defense and creating passes with finesse. Coffield’s ability to dribble made it easy for players like Phiri, who scored the second Pitt goal, to excel on offense.

Coffield will continue to make an impact on the Panthers squad in the coming season as a starter. For a team that often struggled finishing opportunities last season, the Panthers will look to Coffield to be a necessary playmaker.

Turnovers prove costly for Panthers

While the Panthers generally dominated most of play throughout the game, they struggled throughout with turnovers. An errant pass thanks to miscommunication from the Panthers defense gave Duquesne their goal in the second half. While the Dukes couldn’t muster many more chances towards net, Pitt’s struggles maintaining possession led to multiple close calls in the second half following the goal. 

Even when the Panthers managed to move the ball down the field, they couldn’t maintain possession down the stretch to put themselves in a position to score.  

The Panthers’ strength is their athleticism — throughout the game they often were first to the ball and quick to make decisions. Despite their physical advantage, a plethora of careless plays led to far too many opportunities for the Dukes.

The Panthers should have won by more than two goals, but were unable to create many chances due to sloppy passing, errant deep balls and impulsive decision-making.

Stifling defense proves integral to Panthers’ success

The Panthers put on quite an offensive performance for the fans in attendance at Rooney Field. However, the defense was their key to success. 

Other than the single goal the Panthers allowed off of an offensive miscommunication, Pitt successfully intimidated the Dukes and made it virtually impossible for them to get anything going. Performances from senior back Ashton Gordon and first-year midfielder Briana Rodriguez stifled the Dukes’ offense. Whenever the Duquesne forwards had any chance of scoring, Gordon and Rodriguez made the defensive stop.

Pitt will move on to play more athletic and fast opponents, including a spring rivalry matchup against West Virginia at home. In order for the Panthers to continue their play at a high level, they must maintain the defensive prowess they showed during this matchup.