PITTSBURGH--Four freshmen totaled seven of Pitt's 10 total points in guiding the Panthers to a 3-0 season opening victory over Akron Friday evening at Ambrose Urbanic Field.
"I'm really proud of our team," Pitt coach Greg Miller said. "Our start was exceptional tonight. We should have scored a goal in the first minute, but we kept pressing and scored in the ninth minute. Then we scored a goal on a set piece a little bit later. I was really impressed with our team. We just kept pressing all game. We had some great minutes by many of our players off the bench."
Miller was especially pleased with his group of freshmen players. Six freshmen made their first collegiate soccer starts including Seyla Perez, Taylor Pryce, Emma Pozzulo, Shaina Ashouri, Courtney Coate and Ashley Moreira. Perez and Pryce each scored their first career goal on the evening, Moreira totaled two assists, Hanna Hannesdottir assisted on a goal and played 51 quality minutes off the bench and Malea Fabean (38 minutes) and Jo Fischer (40 minutes) each saw extensive action.
"They are doing exactly what we recruited them to do," Miller said. "I'm pleased with their early contribution. That will give them confidence moving forward. They put their stamp on the game tonight and I'm really pleased with their effort and our entire effort as a team."
The Panthers benefitted from a strong start. Pitt went up 1-0 in the game's eighth minute when junior Roosa Arvas scored on an open net shot. Arvas, who finished the night with the game-winning goal and an assist, controlled a shot from freshman Ashley Moreira that bounced off the Akron goalkeeper and back into the center of the field. Pitt then took a commanding 2-0 lead in the game's 40th minute when freshman Seyla Perez headed the ball into the net off a perfectly placed corner kick from Arvas. Arvas' ball was sent to the far post where Perez stood unguarded.
In the second half, Pitt went up 3-0 in the 48th minute when freshman Taylor Pryce received a through ball from Moreira, dribbled twice and hit a shot past Akron goalkeeper Klaire Adee into the lower left portion of the goal. Moreira received a pass from freshman Hannesdottir.
Defensively, the Panthers limited Akron to just one shot. Sophomore defender Arielle Fernandez played an outstanding 53 minutes off the bench, along with defenders Perez, Jackie Poucel and Riliegh McHugh.
Pitt outshot Akron 15-1 and finished with three corner kicks to Akron's zero. Pitt goalkeepers--Taylor Francis and Margot Shore--were never pressed into making a save. The last time Pitt scored at least three goals in a winning effort was a 3-0 win against Bucknell on August 30, 2013.
The match was part of Pitt's own Steel City Classic featuring the Panthers, Akron, Duquesne and Robert Morris. In Friday's first match of the Steel City Classic, Robert Morris scored two goals to erase a 2-1 deficit in registering a 3-2 victory over Duquesne. The teams will all play on Sunday at Ambrose Urbanic Field as Akron faces Robert Morris at 11 a.m. ET, followed by Pitt vs. Duquesne at 1:30 p.m. ET.
"Duquesne's focus is going to be on Sunday," Miller said. "They're playing an in-town rival and they're going to be up for the challenge. We've got to do our best to recover and get our minds focused on playing them Sunday and come out and play well."
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