In a hard-fought, defensive battle, the Pitt women’s soccer team fell to Duquesne on a sudden-death goal — the only score of the match — after 104 minutes of play.
The shutout loss moved the Panthers’ record to 1-1. It was their second game of the Steel City Classic, a four-team tournament that took place this weekend at Ambrose Urbanic Field on upper campus. They defeated the University of Akron 3-0 on Friday night. Despite Sunday’s defeat, since all four teams finished with .500 records, Pitt won the tournament by virtue of its plus-two goal differential.
Pitt head coach Greg Miller said the late goal by Duquesne’s Caroline Lacy was a result of an initial mistake.
“We did a poor job of clearing the ball, so the ball came in off the initial free kick,” Miller said. “Then they got another chance, sprayed the ball out wide, and then it was a 55-45 ball for them and our goalkeeper was late.”
From a statistical standpoint, Pitt was the superior team, outshooting the Dukes 15-6 and registering more shots on goal, 7-4.
Despite Pitt’s offensive advantage, the team failed to put away any of its chances — a failure that evenutally decided the game.
After regulation ended scoreless, the game went to golden goal extra time with neither team able to break the deadlock in the first 10-minute period.
“We missed some opportunities that I thought we should have capitalized on,” Miller said. “We were only dangerous a handful of times, so we, as a team, need to be dangerous more consistently.”
Besides that, the team also struggled to adjust to Duquesne’s compact style of defense.
“We were presented with something we hadn’t faced yet and that was a team sitting in a little bit and we struggled with that,” Miller said.
On top of that, one of Pitt’s three seniors, co-captain Jackie Poucel, was injured and taken out in the 63rd minute of the game.
“Jackie going down maybe rattled us a bit. And when you rattle a young team, they either respond [well] or they don’t,” Miller said.
Miller didn’t know the particulars of the injury, though he said he expects Poucel to tough her way through it.
“The good news is she had all feeling in her lower extremities. She got her bell rung a bit, but she’s a tough kid and we expect her to push through this,” he said.
With time, Miller sees his team adjusting to game plans and unforeseen circumstances more consistently.
“We didn’t problem solve enough on the field. That comes with experience and we haven’t worked though some of those things in practice,” he said.
With a starting lineup consisting of six freshmen and two sophomores, some initial growing pains are expected. Freshman midfielder Shaina Ashouri believes these problems will cease as she and her teammates continue to adjust to each other’s playing style.
“We’ve learned a lot [already]. It’s hard because none of us knew each other and the way we play,” Ashouri said.
She, along with classmate Taylor Pryce and junior Roosa Arvas were the main providers on offense for Pitt. Ashouri registered two shots on goal in 80 minutes of play, while Arvas and Pryce recorded two combined in 72 and 81 minutes, respectively.
By winning the tournament, Pitt ends an six-year run without a regular-season tournament title. In 2008, they defeated Temple and Central Arkansas in the Owl Eyes Classic.
Pitt will return to Ambrose Urbanic Field on Wednesday when they face off against Robert Morris University, a familiar opponent to Miller and his staff. The Colonials also took part in the Steel City Classic.
“We got an opportunity to see them twice [this year], so we feel like we have a pretty good idea how they’re going to play,” Miller said.
RMU played Akron in its second game of the tournament before Pitt and Duquesne kicked off.
Miller hopes the team’s valuable game experience will help his young team adjust more consistently in-game and improve them for the upcoming game and remaining season.
“It’s a good learning experience for us, especially early on, and hopefully we can regroup and move forward,” Miller said.