The Pitt women’s soccer team is set to return to the field to take on No. 3 Clemson on Thursday night after nearly two weeks off. The long delay was due to the late decision to cut the Oct. 25 matchup at Syracuse from the schedule after the ACC lowered the number of regular-season games its teams could play from 20 to 16 in the middle of the season. Pitt was 12 games into its slate at the time.
Syracuse head coach Nicky Adams broke down the situation last week.
“Yeah, so as of right now, Pitt has decided not to come,” Adams told Skyler Rivera of the Daily Orange. “Before we started this COVID soccer season, there were no rules put in place. So everybody assumed we were given 20 games split between fall and the spring. I guess this week, the ACC has decided to probably reduce the number of games — not just for women’s soccer, but every sport. So we were told it’s going to be reduced by 20 percent, which puts us from 20 games to 16 games.”
“Well, Pitt went on a rampage this fall and tried to get as many games as it could,” Adams continued. “So if they chose to play us, then they would only be allowed to play one match in the spring, and I think their coaching staff did not appreciate that. And so they want multiple — more than one — in the spring, and they decided not to come.”
Pitt head coach Randy Waldrum also issued a statement on the cancelation.
“It is unfortunate, over a month into our season, that the decision to reduce the number of games we are able to play this year necessitated the cancellation of the game with Syracuse,” Waldrum said. “We look forward to our future opportunities to play Syracuse, a program we certainly respect and appreciate competing against on an annual basis.”
Waldrum also noted that the large number of games scheduled this fall was due to “the uncertainty of a spring season happening.” At the time that Pitt’s schedule was finalized and released, the Big Ten and other conferences had canceled their fall sports seasons in response to the COVID-19 crisis, nixing women’s soccer until spring at the earliest. The Big Ten was also unwilling to commit to a spring season, describing it as a “possibility.” However, the Big Ten and others later reversed course on football, making the resumption of other fall sports in spring more likely.
Pitt and Syracuse previously played at Ambrose Urbanic Field in Pittsburgh on Sept. 17, with the Panthers dealing the Orange a 2-0 shutout. And while a second contest was unlikely to yield a different result, with Syracuse now sitting at 0-6 and having been outscored 16-1 in those six games, the matchup would have afforded Pitt an opportunity to ease into its tilt with No. 3 Clemson on Thursday.
One benefit is that, with the better part of two weeks off, Pitt should be well rested and prepared to face its third ranked opponent of the season. Its last matchup against a ranked team was a 4-1 loss to No. 2 Florida State on Oct. 15, and prior to that, the team fell 2-1 to No. 10 Virginia in overtime on Oct. 1. Pitt entered both of those games on just three full days of rest. This time, the Panthers will have had 10 full days off since their last game, a 2-0 win over Miami in Pittsburgh on Oct. 18.
The matchup between 9-3-0 Pitt and 5-2-0 Clemson will kick off from Riggs Field at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday. Pitt will have the nation’s leading scorer, Amanda West, in tow, and the team will have a shot at securing its first 10-win season since 2015 in South Carolina.