Amanda West: The ACC's Hidden Gem
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Update 8/31/22: Hours after publication, West broke another Pitt record. She now has the all-time assist record at 21 after helping to defeat Kent State 7-0.
If asked, “Who is the women’s soccer player to watch closely this season in the Atlantic Coast Conference?” many avid viewers might say Florida State’s Jenna Nighswonger or the University of Virginia’s Alexa Spaanstra. To the University of Pittsburgh faithful, however, there’s a clear answer: senior striker Amanda West.
The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) is known for its men’s soccer success. Their women’s team, however, has been on the come up over the past two seasons. Led by Nigerian women’s national team coach Randy Waldrum, Pitt ended last season with a program best 12 ACC points and tied the program record for most single-season wins. Much of this success is due to Waldrum’s excellent recruiting. He recruited heavily in Canada, leading him to players like Chloe Minas, Leah Pais, and West.
West hasn’t just broken records at Pitt, she’s smashed through them like a Canadian Kool-Aid Man. She holds the record for most points (85), goals (33), points per game (1.89), goals per game (.73), penalty kick goals (10), overtime goals (four), game-winning goals (13), and three-plus point games (13). This is to say nothing of her other statistics. In the 2020-21 season, she was the highest goal-scorer, game-winning goal scorer, had the greatest amount of points, and had the highest number of shots on goal per game in the nation. She was also called into the senior Canadian national team camp in November 2021, a massive honor.
While stats are great, there are two key reasons to watch West. The first reason: she elevates the play of those around her. West is completely unselfish when it comes to scoring. She’s more than happy to assist if it means the Panthers get on the board. West has 19 assists in her career so far, a rarity for such a prolific goalscorer.
She’s combined seamlessly with younger players, especially sophomore forward Sarah Schupansky. To the uninitiated, it would appear that West has played with Schupansky for years, not for one season. She also has an almost psychic connection with midfielder Emily Yaple. They’ve combined for some epic goals over their three years together. But these are just two examples of the chemistry West has with the entire team. Whenever West steps on the field, the quality of every player rises to meet her.
Secondly, West is lethal in front of goal. A player doesn’t get the title of “most goals scored in the collegiate game” without a killer instinct. In fact, many teams’ entire defensive tactic when playing against Pitt is simply to not let West get the ball. As demonstrated in the goal below, West is dangerous from any part of the attacking third.
Despite being double teamed and being at an odd angle away from goal, West still manages to bend the ball over the keeper’s head. Her defenders are helpless to stop her powerful shot. She always manages to be in the right place at the right time, as seen in this next goal as well:
West isn’t just lucky, however. She has a high soccer IQ and reads the game as well as she finishes goals. For evidence of this, look no further than her high assist count. She has the vision to see chances before opponents even step to the Pittsburgh attack.
Amanda West has already left an indelible mark on the University of Pittsburgh women’s soccer program. That being said, she has one more season to play as a senior, and expectations are high. She's already won ACC Offensive Player of the Week already! Knowing West's fierce desire to win, she will rise to the challenge.