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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

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First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

Takeaways | Pitt women’s soccer off to a good start

Junior+Mackenzie+Evers+heads+the+soccer+ball+during+the+spring+game+against+West+Virginia+on+Wednesday%2C+April+5.+
Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer
Junior Mackenzie Evers heads the soccer ball during the spring game against West Virginia on Wednesday, April 5.

Pitt women’s soccer came into this year hoping to continue the success of last season, where the team made the NCAA Women’s soccer tournament for the first time in program history. Led by sixth-year head coach Randy Waldrum, Pitt jumped out to an 8-1 record in its first nine games. Here are some key takeaways from Pitt’s stellar start to the 2023 campaign. 

Team Offense is the key to victory

While the Panthers boast a great defense, the driving force behind their success so far this season is their ability to score. Scoring an average of 3.11 goals per game — best for eighth across Division 1 soccer — the Panthers prove a tough matchup for their opponents. Additionally, they are tied for ninth in total goals scored, with 28 thus far.

Perhaps the most telling statistic, however, is Pitt’s assists per game number. Best for third in college soccer, the Panthers average 3.44 assists per game, trailing only Texas and Texas Tech. 

One notable connection is that between junior forward Sarah Schupansky and fifth-year forward Amanda West. The two connected for a goal in Pitt’s ACC-opening win against North Carolina State. That assist was the second of the season for the duo, who had previously connected against Drexel in a 4-1 win.

Schupansky and Mertz make the offense run smoothly

Schupansky and fifth-year midfielder Landy Mertz showed fans throughout the start of the season why they deserve the starting spots that they have, each earning 5 assists thus far. Averaging .56 assists per game each, the duo continuously creates plays for the Panthers’ attacking front as they lead one of the most electric offenses across college soccer.

Against Duquesne in a 6-1 victory, Mertz and Schupansky combined for four assists total, just under half of Pitt’s nine assists on the day. There’s only two ACC players with more assists on the season as Schupansky and Mertz. They’ll look to continue their overall offensive playmaking as the conference slate continues for the Panthers. 

Samiah Phiri is an explosive offensive forward

Junior forward Samiah Phiri picked up where she left off last season, in which she notched 10 shots on goal in 15 starts and scored a game-winner against Louisville last October. This season, however, is different. Phiri already eclipsed her shot-on-goal number from last season, landing 11 in just seven starts. Of those 11 shots, five were scored, and three became game winners, tied for third highest in college soccer. 

Phiri scored the clinching goal against three opponents this season, including scoring both goals against Cincinnati en route to a 2-1 win on the road. Phiri will look to continue her success as Pitt gets into the swing of their ACC schedule.

Team cohesion is very strong

While not purely statistical, Pitt looks like a cohesive front on both sides of the ball throughout the season. They are successful in moving the ball all around the pitch, and their defense causes problems for many of their opponents. In fact, the Panthers only allowed more than a single goal once, in their only loss to Xavier. 

The Panthers made it look relatively easy over the course of this part of the season. They make routine plays that work because the team is performing very cohesively. Regardless of talent on a roster, a team must work well together in order to win. The Panthers are doing exactly that. 

Panther are consistently underrated by national media

The Panthers are currently ranked as the 26th best team in collegiate soccer, just on the outside of the Top 25 rankings. However, there are multiple teams with multiple losses ahead of them in the rankings, including two-loss Duke and Saint Louis. 

Additionally, Georgia slots in at No. 23 with just four wins on the season. Pitt’s one loss on the season came to Xavier, who is ranked at No. 17 in the most recent poll. The Panthers’ play is deserving of larger recognition from national media as a whole as they continue to excel against their schedule.

The Panthers take on Louisville on the road this Thursday at 7 p.m., where they will look to get their second ACC win of the campaign.

About the Contributor
Ari Meyer, Staff Writer