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Pitt Women’s Lacrosse Wins Season Opener against Duquesne, 16-10.

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PITTSBURGH — Pitt kicked off its 2023 campaign with an impressive, 16-10, victory over crosstown rival Duquesne at Rooney Field on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers are now 2-0 against Duquesne in the programs two-year history. Camydn O’Donnell and Sydney Naylor both led the Panthers with hat tricks, while Emily Coughlin and Maeve Murray each had two goals.

O’Donnell got things started for the Panthers by ripping a shot past Dukes’ goaltender Rachel O’Toole to give the Panthers an early 1-0 advantage. Mackenzie Leszcztnski responded with a goal off a free position shot to tie the game at 1-1. Pitt completely took over after that, however, as the Panthers out-scored Duquesne 6-1 to take a 7-2 lead as time expired in the first period. Pitt out-shot the Dukes, 11-4, in the opening period.

“Obviously, we have things that we have to work on, but as a team, I thought it was a really good first step to where we want to be at the end of the season,” O’Donnell said about the victory.

Pitt got out of the gates fast, but they slowed down in the third and let Duquesne get back in the game. That’s something O’Donnell and the Panthers want to correct moving forward.

“Last year, we did have a problem keeping (it) going in the second half, and I think that happened to us a little bit today,” O’Donnell said. “But we brought it in after the third and we said we are not playing like ourselves, and we need to get out there and show them how we are. And I think we did that in the fourth quarter.”

Duquesne freshman Chloe Holmes scored an unassisted goal off a wrap-around to cut the Panthers’ lead to 7-3 at the 13:57 mark of the second period. Ava Washington answered by powering her way through the middle and burying a shot past O’Toole. Dylana Williams scored on a free position shot with a player down and Molly Carter followed with a score to enhance Pitt’s lead to 10-3 with 9:16 remaining in the first half. The Panthers scored two more goals and went into halftime with a commanding 12-4 lead. Sixteen of Pitt’s 22 shots were on goal in the first half. The Panthers also had three power play goals and were 9 of 9 on clears.

Duquesne made some halftime adjustments and stymied Pitt’s offensive attack, as the Panthers were held scoreless in the third quarter. The Dukes got two goals from Chelsea Evans and Jillian Caroselli and went into the fourth period facing a five-point deficit at 12-7.

Caroselli continued the Dukes surge with a shorthanded goal at the 13:18 mark of the fourth quarter. Chelsea Evans delivered the assist. The Panthers ended their scoring drought with 10:35 remaining, as Sydney Naylor scored off a free position shot. Murray followed with a goal to extend the Panthers lead to 14-8, which provided some breathing room. Goals by Coughlin and Talia Zuco put the game away and secured the Panthers first win of the season.

“It was just a little shooting space,” Naylor said about her goal that ended Pitt’s scoring drought in the fourth quarter. “It happened because we ran our offense (and) we got it around a little bit, and we just got them in the shooting space. Just trying to listen to my coach Gregg (Gebhard) and trying to hit it backside.”

Naylor was happy to finally play an opponent other than her teammates in practice.

“It was so exciting.  Like, it’s really hard to play only against each other,” Naylor said. “So, it was good to get those first game jitters out and play someone other than us.”

Pitt will travel to New York to face Binghamton on Feb. 16 and Sienna on Feb. 19. The Panthers’ home opener is on Saturday, Feb. 25 against Syracuse at Highmark Stadium. Faceoff is at 12 p.m.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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