The Pitt women’s soccer team faced its toughest test of the 2020 season to date on Thursday night, as the 14th-ranked Panthers took on 10th-ranked Virginia in Charlottesville. As expected, the game was a close one, and it was ultimately decided in overtime. But for the first time this season, Pitt did not escape with a victory and instead fell to Virginia 2-1.
Virginia pressured Pitt all night, as the Cavaliers outshot the Panthers 30-4. That kept Pitt goalkeeper Katherine Robinson busy, and she came up with seven saves on Thursday, matching the total number of stops she had over the first six games of the season.
However, the Panthers were unable to keep the Cavaliers off the board, and Virginia forward Diana Ordoñez opened up the scoring with a goal in the 17th minute. The goal would not be answered by halftime, but five minutes after play resumed, Pitt forward Chantelle Parker was taken down in the box and drew a penalty kick. That kick was taken by Amanda West, who converted to tie the game and extend her scoring streak to seven games.
Both teams had chances to put the game away in regulation but were thwarted one way or another. Twelve minutes after West’s goal, Virginia was awarded a penalty kick after a Pitt defender was called for a handball in the box. However, the kick was sent over the crossbar. The Hoos had chances in the 71st and 73rd minutes as well, but they were fended off by Athalie Palomo and Robinson.
Pitt midfielder Emily Yaple returned fire in the 81st minute but saw her shot blocked as well. As a result, the game went into overtime, where it would be decided by an Emma Dawson header in the 93rd minute. Ordoñez, who scored Virginia’s first goal more than an hour earlier, set up Dawson's game-winner.
"Tonight, we see where we have to improve," Pitt coach Randy Waldrum said. “This Virginia team is a perennial top-eight team every year, and you can see why. They are skillful, athletic and very dynamic. I felt very proud of our defensive shape and organization tonight as our team battled very hard to take this game to overtime. I was disappointed offensively as I felt we were not confident in this area."
"Katherine Robinson was outstanding in goal tonight," he continued. "Player of the game for us for sure. Chantelle Parker had her best game to date, so it’s good to get her going. These are the games we learn from, and we’ll do so with this one. We’ve improved tremendously from the last time we were here losing 7-0 in 2018. I’m proud of the effort."
The loss puts Pitt at 6-1-0 overall this season and 1-1-0 in conference play, while Virginia improves to 3-1-1 overall and 1-1-1 in the ACC. Given Pitt's two-spot drop in the United Soccer Coaches poll last week despite a win, this setback likely does not bode well for Pitt's prospects of remaining ranked. However, given the quality of the opponent and the competitive nature of the game, a drop is not a certainty.
Pitt will wrap up a string of five games on the road on Sunday, with a matchup against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. After a 12-5-2 season in 2019, the Hokies are off to a 0-4-0 start this year. With that said, they may have the toughest schedule in the country, as they have faced four straight ranked opponents and will likely face seven straight if Pitt and Duke remain ranked. The question for Pitt is whether Virginia Tech will be dejected by the losses or hungry for a win by 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, when their matchup is set to kick off.