PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Panthers women’s team kicked off its preseason slate Wednesday afternoon with a heavy loss to a Kentucky Wildcats program ranked No. 16 in the NSCAA preseason rankings.
Jade Klump set the visitors on the road to a 4-1 win at Pitt’s Ambrose Urbanic Field with a goal either side of halftime. Kelly Novak extended the lead from the penalty spot midway through the second period before sophomore midfielder Hanna Hannesdottir grabbed a goal back for the Panthers.
Payton Atkins competed the scoring for Kentucky with five minutes remaining to give the final score an aura of dominance that was also reflected in Kentucky’s 25-5 shots advantage.
Greg Miller’s side returns to action Saturday at 6 p.m. when Bowling Green travels to the Petersen Sports Complex for the Panthers’ second and final exhibition game before non-conference play commences on Aug. 21.
Ohio State transfer Allison Higgs and freshman Niki Hopkins formed an inexperienced partnership at the heart of Pitt’s defense that struggled to cope with the 5-foot-10-inch Klump in the opening minutes.
Junior goalkeeper Taylor Francis kept the Wildcats out on 12 minutes with an excellent diving save after her back line allowed a free header in front of goal. She was left helpless four minutes later when Klump drifted away from her markers to nod Katy Keen’s cross into the bottom corner.
Francis led the Atlantic Coast Conference in total saves last year during her phenomenal sophomore season as well as ranking third in save percentage. She pulled out a point blank save on 31 minutes and another couple of stops shortly before halftime to keep the deficit at one.
Margot Shore took over from Francis for the second half. The Canadian’s first task was to pick the ball out of her net 15 seconds after the restart. A sloppy turnover from kickoff allowed Klump to race clear on goal. The junior forward dispatched a crisp finish into Shore’s far corner.
Jon Lipsitz’s Kentucky side has reached the NCAA Tournament in each of the past four seasons. That quality began to shine through as Shore scooped Cara Ledman’s low drive off her line before making another big save as Pitt clung on.
The impressive Ledman thumped a 20-yard shot off Shore’s bar on 55 minutes after taking a short corner on the left side of the penalty area.
Novak’s penalty kick effectively ended the contest on 66 minutes. Hannesdottir rammed home Pitt’s first goal of the season four minutes later after seizing on a loose ball in Kentucky’s 18-yard box after a deep free kick had not been cleared.
Pittsburgh (4-2-3-1): Taylor Francis – Emily Pietrangelo, Niki Hopkins, Alli Higgs, Siobhan McDonough – Emma Pozzulo, Ashley Moreira – Sarah Krause, Juliana Vasquez, Taylor Pryce – Roosa Arvas
April 11, 2015 — Pitt Women Tie Maryland In Scoreless Spring Friendly
Oct. 10, 2014 — Pietrangelo Shines In Unexpected Starting Slot For Pitt Panthers
Oct. 9, 2014 — SLIDESHOW: Pittsburgh Women 0 Notre Dame 2
Oct. 9, 2014 — Irish Dig Deep To Survive Tough Fight At Pittsburgh