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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Pitt-Bradford Women's Soccer to Meet Pitt-Greensburg in AMCC Semis

Panthers, Bobcats to Meet in the Postseason for the First Time
By Scott Elliott

BRADFORD, Pa. - The No. 3 Pitt-Bradford women's soccer team travels to No. 2 Pitt-Greensburg Wednesday for the AMCC tournament semifinals at 7 p.m.

The match will be played at Hempfield High School in Greensburg due to the Bobcats' field being unplayable with the recent rain.

Pitt-Bradford will be making its eighth straight appearance in the semifinals while Pitt-Greensburg is making its first appearance since 2005. It will be the first-ever postseason meeting between the two Pittsburgh regional campuses in women's soccer.

The Panthers advanced to Wednesday's match by edging La Roche 1-0 in the first round on Saturday. Meghan Stuck scored with 12 minutes left to lift the Panthers, and goalkeeper Sarah Dailey made several key saves down the stretch to preserve the win. It was her sixth shutout of the season.

Pitt-Greensburg earned a first-round bye after going 7-1-1 in AMCC play.

Dailey and the Panther back line will need to be at their best once again. The Bobcats rank among the league's top scoring units, featuring the one-two punch of Brianna Burgunder and Kayleen Schwegler.

Burgunder is fifth in the AMCC with 12 total goals, and Schwegler ranks eighth, finding the back of the net 10 times on the season. As a team, the Bobcats are averaging 2.28 goals per game.

In the regular season meeting on Oct. 2, both Schwegler and Burgunder scored, and Burgunder's goal came with four minutes left in regulation and the Panthers leading 3-2. The two teams would eventually play to a draw in double-overtime.

Pitt-Bradford trailed 2-0 at the break before mounting a second half comeback behind goals from Courtney Shade and Grace Dadzaa. Shade's second goal came with six minutes left and briefly appeared to be the game-winner.

"I am excited for tomorrow's rematch," head coach Marquis Walker said. "The first game was a disappointment in that we clawed our way to the lead after being down two goals early on.

It was early in the conference schedule and we were still sorting out our defense and getting the right players in the correct position."

That game prompted a lineup change from Pitt-Bradford head coach Marquis Walker. Stuck moved to defender to help solidify a struggling back line and the switch worked.

The Panthers responded by posting back-to-back shutouts against Hilbert and Franciscan. In all, Pitt-Bradford has allowed just eight goals in eight games since and most of that damage came in a 5-0 loss to top seed Penn State Behrend.

"Our results since then have shown the growth of the players' confidence in playing with each other," Walker said. "I think one thing that is overlooked in our ability to defend is our ability to keep possession and limit any opponent's chances of attacking."

Defensively, the Bobcats rank in the middle of the pack, surrendering more than two scores per match and the Panthers hope to exploit a susceptible defense.

Dadzaa and Shade spearhead the Panthers' attack, and midfielder Kaitlyn Donnelly will play a big role in setting the table for Pitt-Bradford. The Panthers have struggled of late offensively, netting just four goals in their last four contests.

Pitt-Bradford will hope its recent experience in big games will carry them through to the finals. The Panthers are seeking their fifth straight trip to the league title game.

Waiting on the other side is either Penn State Behrend or Mt. Aloysius. Saturday's championship match is slated for 2 p.m. with the highest remaining seed hosting.

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