Miami holds off Pittsburgh for second straight shutout

The Miami women’s soccer team posted its second straight shutout victory on Thursday night, defeating visiting Pittsburgh, 1-0, at Cobb Stadium.

The Hurricanes were not at their best, but they had enough in the tank to get the victory and make some more headway in the ACC standings.

“We just came off a great win against Notre Dame and it was really important for us to stay focused,” Miami coach Mary-Frances Monroe said. “One game a time, that’s what we talk about and I’m excited about the win today. We didn’t perform very well, but we got the three points at home.”

For the second consecutive game and the fifth time this season it was Ashley Flinn who scored the game-winning goal. The junior forward now has nine goals on the season, three times as many as any other Hurricane.

“Ashley Flinn is a really key player for us, especially these last two games,” goalkeeper Emily Lillard said. “She’s really stepping up. She’s seeing she can be one of the top leading scorers in the ACC and she definitely knows what she’s capable of. These last two games she’s really showing it, too, by finishing the ball.”

Lillard, a junior in her second year as Miami’s starter, is another Hurricane who has picked her game up a notch. After allowing 14 goals in the team’s first five ACC games Lillard has kept the last two opponents off the board entirely.

The Arkansas transfer was second in the conference in saves (67), save percentage (.798) and shutouts (eight) last year, and Lillard said the team’s approach has contributed to this week’s success.

“I think our mentality [has changed],” she said. “We’re more attacking now, we’re coming out knowing we can play in this league and we can be anything we want to be if we’re on top of our game. We’re not defending the whole time, we’re putting numbers up and I think that’s been really important, especially the past two games.”

That attacking mentality helped lead to Miami (8-4, 3-4 ACC) taking 15 shots against Pitt (4-9-1, 0-8 ACC). It was in the 67th minute that the Hurricanes finally broke through and scored.

Tara Schwitter sent a free kick into the box and senior Blake Stockton got her head on the ball, sending it toward Flinn. She was then able to get her foot out and slip the ball into the back of the net for the game’s only goal.

Miami had six shots in the first half, but the team got a message at halftime about the importance of Thursday’s home game.

“We talked about it at halftime: We can’t let one game get by us,” Monroe said. “And coming out at halftime we said, ‘We need a goal, we need three points,’ and this just builds their confidence a little more going into this long stretch [of ACC games].”

The Hurricanes will travel to Syracuse (5-8-1, 1-6-1 ACC) to take on the Orange at noon on Sunday.