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Aug. 26, 2012


By Abby Baldys, Senior Defender, August 17-23, 2012

After a demanding preseason and an exciting exhibition match against West Virginia, our first game against Eastern Michigan was highly anticipated.

Everyone was thrilled to compete. Despite the hype, however, a collection of early-season mistakes set us down a goal early in the first half. Even though our level of play was subpar, we fought through the adversity, and Rileigh McHugh tied the game before halftime. In the second half, we continued to work through our setbacks and gained offensive momentum by earning set pieces. Off a Roosa Arvas corner, Jackie Poucel kept the ball in Pitt possession so that Morgan Sharick could score from a sliding shot.

After the goal, we maintained control of the ball and managed the game to its close. Although we were disappointed in our performance, we were still happy to start the season with a win.

On Saturday, we had a light training session at Michigan's practice field in order to stretch out our legs and prepare for what we knew would be an extremely competitive, high-intensity match against the wolverines on Sunday. When game day came around, our expectations were definitely correct: under scorching sun, we challenged Michigan and held the game to a 0-0 tie for 82 grueling minutes. Unfortunately, a few defensive breakdowns lead to Michigan's goal. Although we were down by one with eight minutes remaining, the entire team continued to press and create scoring opportunities. We never gave up, and that was one of the most important positives we could take from our defeat.

After our weekend in Michigan, the coaches gave us the day off on Monday to rest and prepare for a tough week ahead. Our schedule demanded three matches in the following six days--a number rarely attempted in division I collegiate soccer. We returned to training Tuesday lacking essential focus and intensity, and although we attempted to remedy this before our game against Robert Morris, we definitely stopped short. Playing some of the worst soccer we had seen all preseason and working against weekend fatigue, we found ourselves in a battle with RMU. With some odds in our favor, Ashley Cuba scored off an RMU defender's head in the first half.

The goal established her as Pitt's all-time points leader and goal-scorer (Congratulations, Cuba!). In the second half, however, RMU answered from a long throw-in and tied the game. Once again, we were faced with adversity.

And once again, we rose to the challenge. Another brilliant Roosa Arvas corner kick was flicked on by Kari Cunard and given an extra spin into the net from Alex Charlebois. The win was a great positive to carry into training Thursday and our trip to New York to face St. Bonaventure.

While we continue to work on tweaking positional specificities and raising our level of play before our conference season begins, we've perpetually proven that, no matter what roadblock stands in our way of winning--even, at times, ourselves--we can create the intensity and determination to overcome. Cultivating this comeback quality can only help us in the future against tough Big East opponents. But for now, we are focused on tomorrow's match against St. Bonaventure. New day, new possibilities.

Hail to Pitt!

Player Blogs: Abby Baldys

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