The Pitt women’s soccer team appeared to be off to a solid start in 2018, as the Panthers were able to kick off the season on a four-game unbeaten streak. However, their luck ran out when they began their ACC schedule back in September, as they’ve since lost six straight games, been shut out five times by conference opponents and been outscored 18-2 during that span.
Pitt’s latest loss came on Sunday at the hands of Clemson, a team that is now 9-5 overall and 4-2 in conference. The Panthers fell behind the Tigers in the 28th minute and saw the game pushed out of reach in the 72nd minute. They would go on to suffer a 2-0 loss at Ambrose Urbanic Field.
While that unfortunately seems to be business as usual for the team at this point, it happened to saddle the Panthers with a dubious distinction. With the game falling on Oct. 7 and the team’s next matchup not scheduled to take place until Oct. 14, the loss meant that Pitt would go two full years without a win in the ACC — its longest streak since going through conference realignment.
Currently, the Panthers are riding a 20-game winless streak in conference play, and their last win came on Oct. 9, 2016, when they defeated Miami 1-0 in double overtime at home. Their only respite from the onslaught of losses came in the form of a 1-1 draw with Virginia Tech on Sept. 21, 2017. That game was also played at Ambrose Urbanic Field and required double overtime.
Since joining the ACC, Pitt has been consistently overwhelmed by conference opponents, as the Panthers have been shut out in 35 of the 59 ACC games they’ve played since leaving the Big East in 2013. They have also been outscored by a margin of 154-34 and played to a conference record of 7-45, with most of their wins coming in a middling 4-6 campaign in 2015.
None of this is lost on Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, who took decisive action in the offseason to pull the team out of its free fall by sending former head coach Greg Miller on his way and bringing in Randy Waldrum, who won two national championships with Notre Dame. However, he’s struggled to right the ship thus far and matters may well get worse before they get better.
Pitt has four games remaining in the regular season, and three are against ranked ACC opponents in No. 8 Virginia, No. 10 Florida State and No. 11 Boston College. The third is against Notre Dame, Waldrum’s old school, and it represents Pitt’s best shot at a win this year, as the Fighting Irish have stumbled to a 6-8 overall record this season.
With all that said, the Panthers have already begun to show improvement under Waldrum, as they posted their best overall record since 2015 solely on the strength of their out-of-conference play. At 4-8-1, the team has at least taken a step forward from its disappointing three-win 2017 season and its two-win campaign in 2016. And matters are likely to trend up as time goes on.
But for now, Pitt is in the thick of a tough run, and the only apparent remedy is the eventual halt to conference play that’s coming up in late October.
The Panthers will take the field for the first of their final four games this coming Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, when they head to Charlottesville, Virginia, to take on the eighth-ranked Cavaliers.