#PghSoccer College Wrap Around: Tournament time

It’s been an up and down season for the local Division I college teams — as some continue to push on in playoff action or wrapping up regular season play, while a few are already done for the season.

Here’s a snapshot look at the six local Division teams and where they stand:

PITT MEN

Despite a resurgent season, the Pitt men are stumbling into the ACC tournament first round having lost its last three games, including a 3-0 loss on Friday night against Virginia Tech that wrapped up the regular season.

The Panthers will take on Notre Dame, at South Bend on Wednesday.

Pitt enters the tournament as the No. 10 seed and finished the regular season 8-9 overall with a 2-6 mark against conference foes — in a conference that has nine teams in the RPI’s top 30.

The good news for Pitt, is one of their impressive road wins against a ranked opponent came against the Irish earlier this month. Coach Jay Vidovich’s biggest challenge will be getting his team refocused and ready after losing its last two games to 18th ranked Akron and ACC foe Virginia Tech each by 3-0 margins. These losses have probably damaged Pitt’s NCAA tournament aspirations, although the Panthers are still holding on to an impressive 24th place in the latest RPI rankings.  With a few wins in the ACC tournament, the Panthers could find themselves with a chance to pick up an at-large bid in the big tournament.

Another of Vidovich’s challenges is to steer the team forward after losing its on-the-field leader and team captain, Bryce Cregan, who suffered a knee injury against Akron, ending his season and his collegiate career.

Vidovich’s quote after the 3-0 loss to Akron was quite revealing

“We were behind the eight ball, all along, it was an interesting one, and shows where the program is,” Jay Vidovich said. “It’s shows that when you lose like that, without a number of our starters, we’re not complete.”

DUQUESNE WOMEN

Al Alvine‘s program continues to be in the midst of contention for another Atlantic 10 tournament title.  And just like they did in 2015, the Dukes needed a dramatic early playoff victory to advance to the semifinal round.  On Saturday, Linnea Faccenda‘s deflected shot was enough to help the Dukes earn a 1-0 win over George Washington at Rooney Field.

Facenda’s shot directed off a George Washington defender in the 105th minute. The Dukes will now travel to Richmond this weekend for the remaining games of the A-10 tournament, they will play La Salle on Friday afternoon at Sports Backer Stadium on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.

With the win, Alvine became the all-time winningest coach in program history with 51 wins, and junior goalkeeper Kyra Murphy the all-time winningest keeper with 30 victories.  In addition, with 24 goals, and 16 assists, junior Katie O’Connor has become the top scorer in the history of the program.

ROBERT MORRIS MEN

One program that’s still battling for its playoff lives, with one more regular season game to go, is Bill Denniston’s Robert Morris men’s team, which are now 4-9-3 overall and 3-2-1 in the NEC, good for third place.

After an awful start to the season, going winless in its first nine games (0-7-2), the Colonials showed some fight in losing to Pitt, 1-0, in late-September, then finally picked up a win against Howard in the last non-conference match before league play. Then once they got into Northeast Conference play, with new-found confidence, the Colonials have shown they can compete for a conference title.  On Sunday, the Colonials survived playing down a man, to beat Sacred Heart, 1-0, in overtime, as Keane McIvor buried a penalty kick chance for the win in the 92nd minute. Former Quaker Valley standout, Winter Fondi, has been solid in goal this season, earning three clean sheets.

The Colonials will need a result on Friday, as they travel to St. Francis (PA) to secure a spot in the NEC tournament, where the top four teams qualify.

DUQUESNE MEN

Duquesne men’s team has fallen short of expectations this season under fifth year coach Chase Brooks, with an overall record of 3-12-1, and just 1-6 in Atlantic 10 action. The Dukes will not make the Atlantic 10 tournament (only the top eight teams qualify). The Dukes have lost six straight games, having been shut-out in each game. They will wrap up the season on Wednesday, at Rhode Island.

PITT WOMEN

It was a second consecutive tough year for Greg Miller‘s program, which limped to a 3-12-3 overall record, going winless (0-9-1) in the very tough ACC.

After a positive start to the season, as redshirt freshman keeper Katelyn McEachern was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Week on Aug. 22 after tallying a pair of back-to-back shutouts in her collegiate début, the Panthers could only add one more win the rest of the season.

RMU WOMEN

The Colonial’s women’s program, under the direction of Pittsburgh area (and U.S.) soccer coaching icon John Kowalski, reeled off three straight wins to close the season, to finish with a 6-11 overall and 4-4 record in the NEC.

But it wasn’t enough, as the Colonials were left out of the top four spots to qualify for the Northeast Conference playoff tournament, finishing in sixth place.

Among the bright spots for RMU,  Kristina Kelley, as sophomore from Halifax, PA, finished the season her name all through the program single-season record books. The sophomore tallied 25 points on nine goals and seven assists, placing herself in a tie for fourth, sixth, and second in those respective categories. Additionally, the duo of her and former Montour standout Jane Schleicher completed the year with to combine for 44 points (17g, 10a), which surpasses the record of 40 set by the 1998 pairing of Misha Gebhart and Jody Schuchert.

 

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