PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Panthers women’s team moved to a 4-1-1 record on the season Sunday with a 3-1 win over Atlantic 10 Conference side La Salle at Ambrose Urbanic Field.
Two goals within 68 seconds by freshmen Juliana Vasquez and Sarah Krause gave Pitt a two-goal lead in the opening minutes of the second half. La Salle’s right-back Emily Fenton halved the deficit on 67 minutes with a driven cross that fizzed over the outstretched Taylor Francis before nestling inside the goalkeeper’s far corner.
Panthers captain Siobhan McDonough netted an almost carbon copy of Fenton’s goal from the left flank 30 seconds after the restart to complete the scoring.
“Having a weekend like this really validates everything we’re doing as a staff,” Panthers head coach Greg Miller told The Soccer Observer.
“The kids have really bought in and there’s no question we’ve been getting better.”
Pitt began the weekend with a 2-0 win over Villanova on Friday night.
The Panthers fell to a 1-0 loss against La Salle in Philadelphia on the same weekend last year with Jessika Kagan posing major problems for Miller’s defense. The fourth-year head coach responded by tasking his most experienced defender McDonough with following the Explorers’ winger across the field as necessary. That led to frequent swaps between McDonough and freshman fullback Alli Higgs.
McDonough’s attacking instincts still shone through despite her shackling duties. She fed Krause down the left wing on 31 minutes in a sweeping move that ended with top scorer Jarena Harmon forcing La Salle goalkeeper Katie Getzinger into a save.
Pitt almost took the lead in the final minute of the first half when Emily Pietrangelo pushed forward before finding fellow Ontarian Ashley Moreira lurking near the penalty spot. Moreira’s well-executed shot lacked the required angle to beat Getzinger.
Vasquez broke through on 50 minutes to complete a fine Panthers move. Taylor Pryce dug out a deep cross from the left side that senior forward Roosa Arvas headed back across the 6-yard box. Vasquez reacted sharply to volley past Getzinger from close range.
Krause netted her first collegiate goal within seconds of the restart after taking a pass from Pryce and racing into the right side of the penalty area. The Cleveland native checked onto her left foot before drilling an unstoppable shot high into Getzinger’s net.
Pryce should have netted the goal that her all-round play merited on 61 minutes. Niki Hopkins started the move with a fine example of her composure. The sophomore defender sidestepped an opponent on the halfway line before sending a raking 40-yard ball out to Krause on the left wing.
Krause cut back onto her right foot before picking out the unmarked Pryce eight yards from goal. The Canadian directed her header close enough to Getzinger to allow the goalkeeper to instinctively tip the ball over her crossbar.
Kagan missed a golden chance to haul La Salle back within reach on 72 minutes after Fenton and McDonough had exchanged fortuitous goals. Kristin Haugstad’s lob over the onrushing Francis struck the Pitt crossbar. Kagan sent the rebound against virtually the same part of the goal frame.
Freshmen Harmon, Vasquez, Krause and Kaylee Rabatin have all found the net for the Panthers so far this year with Alex Reckas and Morgan Egan registering assists. Those contributions added to the familiar threats of Arvas and Pryce have given Pitt a more potent look during the past month.
“That’s always the recruiting plan, right?” Miller said. “You bring some other kids in that can share some of the load.
“It’s been good to see the freshmen get on the score sheet whether it’s an assist or a goal.”
The Panthers continue the non-conference part of the season Thursday when Liberty visits Ambrose Urbanic Field. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
FIFA World Cup winner and Pittsburgh native Meghan Klingenberg will be in attendance to partake in a pregame photo session and halftime question-and-answer session.
Pittsburgh (4-2-3-1): Taylor Francis – Siobhan McDonough, Niki Hopkins, Seyla Perez, Alli Higgs – Ashley Moreira, Juliana Vasquez – Jarena Harmon, Hanna Hannesdottir, Taylor Pryce – Roosa Arvas
La Salle (4-3-3): Katie Getzinger – Kari Nickels, Marcela Robinson, Paige McDowell, Emily Fenton – Chrissy Vollrath, Clari Kirsch-Downs, Deja Davis – Marykate Bateman, Maci Bower, Madison Bower
Referee: Sean Regan
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