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Overtime penalty kick goal lifts Pitt over ‘Cuse

Juliana+Vazquez+and+the+Pitt+women%27s+soccer+team+were+unable+to+covert+any+offensive+chances+into+scores+against+UC+Irvine.++Heather+Tennant+%7C+Staff+Photographer
Juliana Vazquez and the Pitt women's soccer team were unable to covert any offensive chances into scores against UC Irvine.  Heather Tennant | Staff Photographer

Juliana Vazquez and the Pitt women's soccer team were unable to covert any offensive chances into scores against UC Irvine. Heather Tennant | Staff Photographer

Juliana Vazquez and the Pitt women's soccer team were unable to covert any offensive chances into scores against UC Irvine. Heather Tennant | Staff Photographer

By Jeff Carpenter / Staff Writer

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Greg Miller is superstitious.

With sophomore midfielder Hanna Hannesdottir lining up to take a game-winning penalty kick in overtime, Miller, Pitt women’s soccer head coach, focused his eyes off the field.

“I don’t ever watch [penalty kicks], so I’ll have to see it on video. But it went in and I guess that’s all that matters,” Miller said. “I didn’t even say Hanna’s name, I let them sort it out, and she wanted it.”

Pitt left the field with a 1-0 win, after Hannesdottir delivered the first and final strike in overtime over Syracuse Sunday afternoon at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

When Syracuse (5-10-1, 0-6-0 ACC) took down freshman forward Juliana Vazquez in the box on a cross from the right flank, the referee called for the decisive penalty kick.

Hannesdottir stepped up to take the shot and scored, sending the ball into the lower right corner of the net, sneaking past the outstretched arms of Syracuse sophomore goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan for her first goal of the season.

With senior forward and the team’s primary penalty kick taker Roosa Arvas on the bench, the team decided Hannesdottir would be the one to give the Panthers (10-3-1, 4-2-0 ACC) their 10th victory of the season.

It was a familiar script for Syracuse, which lost its sixth straight conference game. The last time the two teams met, on Sept. 28, 2014, Pittsburgh downed Syracuse on the road with a penalty kick as well, registering the program’s first ACC win.

The Panthers entered Sunday’s matinee hoping to amend a losing streak that saw them lose two consecutive contests for the first time this season. Hannesdottir’s goal gave them their third straight victory when play extended past 90 minutes this season.

Their most recent one, which Miller called “the biggest win since I’ve been here,” was at home against Wake Forest, when they came out on top 2-1. They have been sent into extra time five times on the year, amassing a 3-1-1 record in the process.

“I thought we had a lot of good moments, it was a little bit of a typical Sunday game when we had some tired legs,” Miller said. “We allowed Syracuse to face up and run at us one too many times, and that was a bit nerve-racking … I think we created a lot of good chances, and leave it to a [penalty kick], you just never know.”

Pitt started to control the game as the first half wore on, finishing the half leading in shots 5-1. Sophomore forward Taylor Pryce came close to scoring after a feed from freshman forward Jarena Harmon, but Brosnan, who finished with seven saves, denied the attempt.

While Pitt seemingly controlled play, the score still sat at 0-0.

The Panthers tilted the playing field in the second half. There was a surplus of scoring chances, but the finishing wasn’t present. Harmon couldn’t complete a good attempt in the box after freshman midfielder Sarah Krause sent in a pass. Syracuse midfielder Jackie Firenzie took Krause down after releasing the ball, and she was shaken up on the play, earning Firenzie a yellow card.

The Panthers finished with eight corner kicks on the day, but Brosnan was successful in subduing the pressure. Miller said Pitt will try to correct its inability to convert on some of those chances in the upcoming week of training.

“We talked about it on Thursday that we’re going to create chances, we just have to finish them. We’re a team that’s fairly dynamic and can put pressure on back lines, but at the end of the day, we have to do a better job of converting our chances.” Miller said.

Syracuse failed to find many opportunities throughout the game, but the Orange did release a shot with 45 seconds left in the second half that Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis deflected off the crossbar and out of play. Francis finished with two saves in her seventh clean sheet of the season.

The Orange couldn’t produce any shots in overtime, finishing with five total to Pitt’s 13.

“As the schedule gets more difficult, the creation of chances may come less and less, and we have to really capitalize on those moments.” Miller said.

Pitt has only one home game remaining on the slate, a Halloween date with No. 3 Virginia. Before that contest, it will travel to Clemson, Duke and Virginia Tech.

The first obstacle comes in No. 7 Clemson on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

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Overtime penalty kick goal lifts Pitt over ‘Cuse