Women’s Soccer: Panthers lose opening Big East games

By Lauren Kirschman

The women’s soccer team lost its first two Big East games this weekened when it opened both… The women’s soccer team lost its first two Big East games this weekend when it opened both with a strong defense during the first half but lost momentum in the second half.

The Panthers started the conference season on the road, falling to South Florida 2-0 on Friday. On Sunday, Pitt returned home, where Marquette pulled out a 2-1 victory.

South Florida 2, Pitt 0

Pitt kept the game scoreless against South Florida in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Bulls in the second half.

“South Florida was kind of upsetting,” Pitt junior Katelyn Ruhe said. “We’re just missing a last piece. We believe that we can do it, but we just need to push harder for 90 minutes.”

The first goal came in the 50th minute, when Chelsea Klotz took a shot from the middle of the box and slipped the ball by Pitt goalkeeper Morie Kephart in the lower right hand corner of the goal.

But the Panthers had several chances to tie the game in the second half. In the 61st minute, Ashley Cuba’s shot hit off the crossbar. Then, in the 74th minute, Cuba fired again, but South Florida goalkeeper Nicole McClure’s diving save prevented the score.

Katelyn Lippert took a shot at tying the score in the 83rd minute, but McClure made another diving stop and deflected the ball wide.

The Bulls pushed the game out of Pitt’s reach in the 88th minute, when Taylor Patterson drilled a pass from Venicia Reid into the net.

“It was a good game,” Ruhe said. “It shouldn’t have been 2-0 any means. They didn’t outplay us at all, we played well.”

South Florida out-shot the Panthers 15-10, including 8-5 in shots on goal. At halftime, the shot totals were more even, with the Bulls managing six shots to Pitt’s five.

“I thought we did well against South Florida creating some corner kicks,” Pitt head coach Sue-Moy Chin said. “We put them under pressure, but that was after we were already down a goal.”

Kephart had a season-high six saves, including stopping a shot from 10 yards out in the first half to prevent the Bulls from gaining an early advantage.

Cuba finished with a team-high four shots, including two on goal.

Chin said the Panthers need to work on finishing chances and starting stronger, the latter of which she said they achieved against Marquette.

Marquette 2, Pitt 1

Pitt kept Marquette’s offense in check in the first half, but second half goals were again the Pathers’ undoing. The Golden Eagles scored twice in the second half to defeat the Panthers 2-1.

“We started out strong against Marquette with our intensity and the play was very good,” Chin said. “We almost scored on a corner kick early.”

Early in the second half, Rachel Brown scored her second goal of the season after she collected a loose ball off a corner kick and put Marquette up 1-0.

Pitt’s Alexandra Jaffe answered in the 68th minute when she headed a corner kick from Ruhe into the net. It was Jaffe’s first goal of the season and Ruhe picked up an assist on the play.

Lauren Thut’s first goal of the season was also the game winner. She sealed the game for the Golden Eagles in the 83rd minute off a penalty kick.

The team will be focusing on keeping their composure before the next game, Chin said.

“We got a little but better on ball, but we were panicky at times and then we turn the ball over,” she said. “It was a tough one to lose.”

Marquette out-shot Pitt by a slight 5-3 margin in the first half, but held a 12-2 advantage in the second half.

Ruhe said she’s confident the Panthers have the skill to continue improving as the season goes on, hopefully finding their way to more scoring opportunities.

“We’re very talented this year, we just can’t seem to find the goal as much as we should be,” Ruhe said. “If we find that, we’ll be good.”

Pitt receives its next opportunity to put up a Big East win on Oct. 1, when the Panthers take on Louisville in Kentucky.