PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh women’s soccer team dropped its ACC opener 1-0 to the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday night to begin conference play.
The first 15 minutes of the half were spent feeling each other out, with each team battling for control of the midfield. Louisville took advantage of their first corner kick, getting on the board first.
An innocent looking corner from the Cardinals’ freshman forward Allison Whitfield found its way through a contingent of bodies in front, evading Pitt senior goaltender Taylor Francis for the first goal of the game in the 16th minute. The tally is Whitfield’s second goal of the season.
Just a few minutes later, Louisville had another good chance on a free kick from 19 yards out. However, sophomore midfielder Gabrielle Vincent sailed it over the crossbar.
After the missed opportunity, Pitt was able to turn the tide and tilt the play towards Louisville side of the field for the remainder of the half.
Senior defender Emily Pietrangelo found herself on the receiving end of some stellar ball movement in the attacker third by the Panthers. Sophomore defender Alli Higgs threaded a through ball back door, and Pietrangelo fired a shot on net. Louisville senior goaltender Taylor Bucklin absorbed the shot and scooped up the loose ball to silence Pitt’s best chance of the first half.
Pietrangelo also came across the entire field to thwart an odd man rush from Louisville in the second half before a quality scoring chance could develop.
Pitt had a good share of the possession in the game, threatening at times in Louisville’s half, but it failed to muster enough quality scoring opportunities to solve Bucklin and the Cardinals’ back line.
“We have to create more dangerous opportunities and take shots when we have them,” said head coach Greg Miller. “We are still passing up some of those chances when we have them. In the ACC, sometimes it can come down to one moment like it did for Louisville, and they capitalized on it tonight,”
Pitt recorded nine shots, eight of them on net, while the Cardinals finished with 13 total shots, but just six on net. Higgs led the Panthers with three attempts.
Sophomore midfielder Kaylee Rabatin had a shot turned aside by Bucklin and junior defender Niki Hopkins launched a header over the net off of a Higgs free kick with five minutes to play to cap off Pitt’s push to tie the game.
Francis finished with five saves, while Bucklin had eight for the Cardinals.
“From a physical hard-working standpoint, I thought we were much better,” added Miller. “I thought we were much more organized defensively, much more on the same page. We’ll have to take those two things going forward and continue to work on our offense.”
With the loss, Pitt falls to 1-7-1 and 0-1-0 in ACC action. Up next for Pitt, the squad will travel to Boston College Thursday, Sept. 22. The Panthers will then travel to South Bend, Ind. to take on Notre Dame on Sunday, Sept. 25.