NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament Third Round
Pitt (15-5-1) vs Memphis (20-1-0)
Sunday, November 19, 2023 | 7:30 p.m. (ET) | Arkansas Soccer Field, Fayetteville, AK
The Pittsburgh women’s soccer team will be facing off with Memphis in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. This is the second-straight year where Pitt has earned a spot in the Sweet 16. Both teams featured in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in their Round of 32 clashes.
Pittsburgh took down second-seeded Arkansas, who hadn’t lost a match at home in 32 games. According to midfielder Ellie Coffield, that was “almost Ashton Gordon time.” Gordon, a transfer from Arkansas, came to Pittsburgh in 2021.
It was a back-and-forth contest between Pitt and Arkansas, with Pitt taking the lead twice in separate occasions, equalizing twice as well. Amanda West and Keera Melenhorst found the back of the net, while Coffield put in a two-goal performance. The backline recovered from allowing three goals to stand strong for the last 20 minutes, keeping Arkansas away from goalkeeper Ellie Breech.
Meanwhile, Memphis had their own big story on Friday, taking down Notre Dame, 3-2. The Fighting Irish and Panthers are both in the ACC, and met up in the Sweet 16 last year. This year, the Panthers will take on Memphis, a team that hails from the American Athletic Conference (AAC).
Scouting Memphis, the Tigers are led in scoring by Saorla Miller, who has 12 tallies on the season and three assists. Right behind her is Mya Jones, who has a staggering 11 goals and 10 assists. However, like the Panthers, they aren’t the only players who can find the back of the net. Anna Hauer has eight goals, while Momo Nakao has six goals to her name.
In goal, the Tigers have relied on Kaylie Bierman, who has started 19 matches this season. She has only allowed nine goals, making 49 saves and hitting eight shut outs. Memphis has only allowed 10 goals all season against them. Memphis’ lone loss this season came against the University of Alabama.
Just like the Panthers, this is Memphis’ second-straight appearance in the Sweet 16. However, this is the first time in program history that the two sides will be meeting. Panthers head coach Randy Waldrum said that Memphis and Pittsburgh are similar teams. Waldrum also said he wasn’t entirely surprised with Memphis’ win over Notre Dame.
“Honestly, I wasn’t surprised that they won,” Waldrum said on Saturday. “Memphis tries to play. They will put the ball down. They’re very similar to us. They like the pass and possession. Brooks Monaghan has 10 internationals or so on his team. They like to play. Just following their progress this year that, even though they don’t play in a conference like ours, they’re getting results. I thought, Notre Dame, to me, was a little more direct, athletic and play as much. I thought, if Memphis could get ahold of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won. Going back and watching the game, Notre Dame had chances. If they converted on, it would a different story. Credit to Memphis for doing everything they did in the game and staying composed.”
Waldrum said that Sunday’s contest will be a battle of two teams who want to possess the ball.
“It’s going to be a great match from the standpoint of two teams who like to play,” he said. “I think, from a soccer standpoint, it will be a entertaining game to watch. They’re organized. I think Brooks does a great job with his teams, and he’d one that for a number of years there. It’s not going to be a an easy matchup for us. That’s the message to get across for our team. You can’t, from an experience standpoint, look at it and go, ‘this team upset Notre Dame so it’s going to be an easier game.’ That’s not the case; they deserved the win yesterday. They need to understand that, and they will, that it’s not going to be an easy matchup.”
“I’m looking forward to a great game. I think there are things we can exploit, but I think they’re looking at us and thinking the same thing. It’s going to be an interesting chess match tomorrow.”