In its second conference game of the season, Miami’s women’s soccer team lost to the Pittsburgh Panthers in a 3-1 match. The Hurricanes fell to 3-3-2 on the season while the Panthers continued their best start in program history with a 9-1 record.
“Their execution in the second half was better than ours,” Miami head coach Sarah Barnes said in a UM athletics release. “They outcompeted us in the air. It’s disappointing to concede on three set pieces. We have to be more effective keeping the ball, so we aren’t defending as much. We have to do a better job eliminating those opportunities.”
The storyline heading into tonight’s matchup was how the Hurricanes’ star goalkeeper, Melissa Dagenais, would hold up against one of the best offenses in the country. Dagenais entered the game with an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) best save percentage of 89.7%. The Panthers were second in the country with 3.67 goals per game.
In the first half, Dagenais and the Hurricanes’ defense were winning the battle. The Panthers came out looking for goals as they fired off five shots but all were saved by Dagenais, who is the star of this team and continues to make jaw-dropping save after save.
In the 25th minute, Villanova graduate transfer Chloe O’Neill capitalized on the only offensive opportunity Miami had all night. In a clear attempt by Pittsburgh goalkeeper Caitlyn Lazzarini, O’Neill ran up to deflect the attempt, and the ball bounced off of her into the back of the net.
The goal from O’Neill put the Hurricanes up 1-0. They would hold onto this lead for the rest of the half.
From the start of the second half, it was all about the Panthers. Back-to-back goals in the 50th and 51st minutes from Katie Zailski and Landy Mertz gave them a 2-1 lead that they held onto for the rest of the game. A goal from Lead Pais in the 63rd minute ensured Pitt’s 3-1 victory.
The offensive attack from the ‘Canes was non-existent in the second half, posting zero shots on goal.
Although it was a loss, the Hurricanes had a very competitive game with one of the better teams in the ACC. Pittsburgh can be a national championship contender as it has one of the top offenses in the country.
“I thought the first half we were a totally different team,” Barnes said. “We need to see that team more. We pressured them well, turned them over a number of times, had spans of possession and created some good opportunities. We need to see more of that. We defended them pretty well in the first half. We have to be able to adjust as the game goes on and have a counterpunch.”
Looking ahead, Miami will be traveling to play at Syracuse on Sunday at 1 p.m. in hopes of ending a three-game losing streak.