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Four Pitt Programs Place in Respective Polls for the Third Time in School History

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Four Pitt sport programs this fall earned a spot in their respective polls, demonstrating the dominance of the athletics department to start the 2022-23 year.

The four programs are football, volleyball, and both men’s and women’s soccer. The feat occurred when the Pitt women’s soccer team came in ranked No. 14 in this week’s United Soccer Coaches Poll. Pitt is one of two schools to have all four teams ranked, as in-state rival Penn State joins them in this mark.

While this might seem like the first time this has happened, it is actually the third time. All four programs maintained spots in the rankings for two weeks in 2020.

Although, this time around, schedules are back to normal and not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, giving more meaning to this success early in the programs’ seasons.

“We are excited about the continued success and trajectory of our football, men’s soccer, volleyball and women’s soccer teams this fall,” said Director of Athletics Heather Lyke in a press release. “The extraordinary efforts across the board by our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff have helped create sustainable winning cultures in each of those programs. Winning is contagious and we are committed building champions and pursuing excellence here at Pitt. The fan support at our home events this fall has been outstanding and make a difference! We are looking forward to seeing it continue to grow with so many key ACC contests coming up for each of our programs.”

Football currently ranks at 24th in the Coaches and the AP poll after a 3-1 start during non-conference play. Pitt defeated long-time rival WVU to start the season, before losing to then ranked No. 24 Tennessee after both starting quarterback, senior Kedon Slovis, and back up, redshirt senior Nick Patti, suffered injuries. They defeated Western Michigan on the road in Week 3 plus FCS Rhode Island last Saturday and start off ACC play this Saturday night against a dysfunctional Georgia Tech team.

The team is led by a stout defense that is improving week-by-week and junior running back Israel Abanikanda. Abanikanda is top of the rushing boards in the ACC with 479 rushing yards over four games, including 464 rushing yards over the past three games. He earned ACC Running Back of the Week honors in his performances against Tennessee in Week 2 and Rhode Island in Week 4.

Pitt volleyball is continuing its dominance under Dan Fisher in his 10th season as head coach, ranked at No. 10 in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll. This is the 76th consecutive poll that the Panthers placed in since 2018.

The Panthers are currently 11-2 to start the season, which includes wins over No. 7 BYU on the road and No. 5 Ohio State at home. The sweep over the Buckeyes is the first sweep for the Panthers at home over a top five team ever.

Pitt just started ACC play, defeating North Carolina and NC State each in four sets this past weekend. Graduate middle blocker Serena Gray sits at 16th in the country with a .412 hitting percentage and also earned ACC Player of the Week honors for her great performances last weekend.

They start on the road Wednesday night with a matchup against Virginia, looking to keep moving on their journey to win their first ACC title since 2019.

Pitt Men’s Soccer is also continuing to play some of the best soccer in Division I, as they are No. 10 in the latest Untied Soccer Coaches poll.

With head coach Jay Vidovich at the helm in his seventh season as head coach, Pitt is currently 5-2-1 to start the season. The rigorous schedule included five ranked teams, which the team will use to improve as they head later on into the season against better opponents.

Junior forward Bertin Jacquesson leads a prolific offensive attack for the Panthers, as he has scored four goals and three assists. Fellow junior, midfielder Filip Mirkovic, runs the middle of the park, delivering five assists while also bagging two goals as well. The Panthers have only allowed eight goals so far, thanks to a tough defense and senior Joe van der Sar, who also has four clean sheets.

Pitt plays Virginia at home this weekend and will look to rebound after a loss on the road to Louisville this past Friday.

Head coach Randy Waldrum is enjoying the benefits of a long rebuild for his squad, as they start at No. 14 in this week’s United Soccer Coaches Poll.

Waldrum started his first season with only four wins, none in ACC play. He now has 10 wins to just one loss and three wins in his first three games of ACC play. The last game saw his team defeat Notre Dame, 3-1 on the road, for his first victory over his former program.

It is even more impressive that this team is still so strong, as star senior forward Amanda West is currently out for the season after she suffered a knee injury.

In her place, fellow senior forward Leah Pais has stepped up and then some. She has found the back of the net seven times over the past six games, all while coming off the bench in every game except for one.

The defense continues to support a solid attack, as they have allowed just nine goals in their 11 matches in 2022.

Pitt will look to keep their perfect ACC play intact when they host Louisville on Saturday, Oct. 1 at home.

 

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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