The 12th-ranked Pitt women’s soccer team traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, to take on the Citadel at Washington Light Infantry Field on Thursday and overcame a late one-goal deficit to post a dramatic 2-1 win.
The first half was quiet, aside from a Katherine Robinson save that kept the Citadel off the board. But the Bulldogs got one past her in the 71st minute. It was the first goal Robinson has allowed all season, and it would not go unavenged, as Kate McKay answered with her second goal of the year in the 83rd minute.
Hannah Knych and Anna Rico created the scoring opportunity for McKay, as Knych lobbed a cross into the box from the right flank, finding Rico, who headed the ball to McKay. McKay then sent a subsequent header over the outstretched fingertips of Citadel goalkeeper Jess Newton to tie the game at 1-1 with just under eight minutes left to play in regulation.
For the second game in a row, Pitt needed overtime to decide the matchup, and for the second game in a row, it all came down to an Amanda West penalty kick. The kick was earned by Emily Yaple, who was taken down on the left end of the box in the 93rd minute. West was entrusted with the kick, as she was against Navy on Sunday, and the decision proved wise, as she buried a shot in the back of the net for her second straight game-winner.
However, while the Panthers got the win, they did not get a glowing review from their coach, who was concerned after they got off to their third slow start in a row.
“We were very fortunate today, as it was probably our worst performance this season,” Pitt head coach Randy Waldrum said after the game. “Credit to Citadel, who made it difficult for us. I just felt we were flat and uninspired until late in the second half. We started to play a bit better late in the second half and overtime. I did think Hannah Knych came on and made a huge impact in the game. She was a bright spot for sure. On a more positive note, we found a way to respond after going behind and then get the win. So I do think we are growing in that regard.”
As Waldrum alluded to, the team showed heart in coming back to win after falling behind. But the fact that Pitt found itself in a 1-0 hole with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game was both unusual, as the team had yet to trail this season prior to Thursday, and concerning, as the level of competition is only going up for Pitt after it leaves the Palmetto State.
For the time being, though, there is plenty for Pitt to celebrate, as the Panthers have opened the season with five straight wins for the first time in program history. And with the team off to its best start ever, the program appears to be bound for new heights with Waldrum at the helm and West at the head of the Pitt attack.
Pitt and the Citadel have one game remaining in their series, and that is set to kick off from Washington Light Infantry Field at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday. After that, Pitt will resume conference play against Virginia in what will likely be showdown of ranked teams.