Women's Soccer

Syracuse women’s soccer’s offense awakens in 1-0 win over Pittsburgh

Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo Editor

Taylor Bennett netted the only goal of the game to give Syracuse its first ACC win.

Taylor Bennett turned and pumped her first in the air. Teammates closed around Bennett, high-fiving and patting each other’s backs.

A Pittsburgh handball had given Syracuse a free kick just outside of its opponent’s box. Bennett, the team’s free-kick specialist, lined up opposite the Pittsburgh wall of four players. She took two steps and sent a rocket through the wall. The ball sailed toward the upper left corner of the net. Pittsburgh goalkeeper Taylor Francis dove, touching her left hand on the ball, but it did nothing. Bennett’s shot flew past her and into the back of the net.

“It could be one of the goals of the season,” Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon said.

Syracuse (8-5-3, 1-4-2 Atlantic Coast) notched a 1-0 victory against Pittsburgh (2-12-1, 1-6-0) at SU Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The win marked Syracuse’s first in ACC play and provided the desperate Orange with a critical three points.

SU awakened offensively for the first time in conference play. The win marked the first time in league play that the Orange was not outshot, as it and the Panthers tied with 12 shots apiece, and the edge in shots on goal went to Syracuse.

A key for Syracuse was the defense’s involvement in the offensive game. Three of SU’s four starting defenders registered a shot, with Bennett recording the lone goal of the contest.

“We did very well keeping the ball,” junior defender Jessica Vigna said. “We played the ball quick and got it wide.”

In the eighth minute, the Orange nearly took a 1-0 lead when Maddie Iozzi sent a roller from 40 yards out into the box. Sydney Brackett blocked out Francis’ view, and a last-ditch clearance effort from Pittsburgh defender Emily Pietrangelo kept the game notched at 0-0.

Iozzi was active again in the 26th minute when she attempted a lofted pass into the box. The pass was broken up, however, by a Pittsburgh handball, resulting in a Syracuse free kick from 25 yards out. The free kick came from a late whistle after the crowd yelled at the refs about the handball and Bennett netted the ensuing free kick.

In the 37th minute, Vigna sent a screamer from about 40 yards out that hit the crossbar. The junior center back stood there in shock, mouth open and head looking up in the air, before racing into the Pitt box to test the defense again.

“I had a lot of space and it sucks that it hit the crossbar,” Vigna said. “But we hadn’t really tested the goalkeeper and I had a chance to.”

In the second half, the energy stemming from the back end made its way to the front line. Alex Lamontagne came alive, recording three shots, with one narrowly missing wide left, after she beat two Pittsburgh defenders.

Bennett came off late in the second half with an apparent right leg injury. The freshman center back was unavailable because she received medical treatment after the game.

The offense remained on the attack all game, with continued involvement from the defense. SU controlled possession and passed well en route to the win.

“We really needed those three points,” junior midfielder Alana O’Neill said. “We had to do whatever we needed to do to get those three points and the win.”

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