The Pitt women’s soccer team topped the Jacksonville Dolphins 2-1 at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Sunday afternoon, matching its 2017 win total, which was three, in the process. Pitt head coach Randy Waldrum also experimented with his lineup in the matchup, giving Aideen O’Donoghue a chance to lead the Panthers attack in top scorer Anna Rico’s normal spot.
“We moved Aideen up front and started her up front,” Waldrum said in a postgame interview. “We were just trying to find somebody else that had some hunger to try to find the goal other than Anna. … It was great for her to get it. Dixon [Veltri] obviously hitting a long-range bomb there for us to win the game [was crucial]. We had a much better second-half performance.”
Waldrum’s decision to rely on O’Donoghue paid off quickly, as she headed in a goal off a long and well-placed cross from Taylor Pryce in the 17th minute to give the Panthers an early 1-0 lead. However, in the 23rd minute, Jacksonville midfielder Sarah Alexander responded with a long-distance shot from beyond the penalty area that went in to tie the game up 1-1.
The game went through a bit of a lull but was reawakened in the 70th minute, when Veltri knocked a long-distance shot just beyond the fingertips of Jacksonville goalkeeper Kristian Shores to seal the game for the Panthers at 2-1.
In addition to the progress that matching last year’s disappointing win total represents, the Panthers showed improvement by proving that players other than Rico can score. Of course, the move also resulted in Rico’s three-game scoring streak coming to an end, but it kept Pitt unbeaten on the season with four games already in the books.
The Panthers will face a steeper challenge in their next outing, however, as they’ll hit the road for the first time in 2018 to take on the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday at 8 p.m. TCU is coming off a 12-7-3 season that ended in an NCAA tournament appearance. The Horned Frogs are currently 3-0 and have yet to give up a goal this season.