Pittsburgh, PA,
17:00 PM

Kickin’ It with the Best

CEE student Elliott Breech juggles being an engineering student and being the starting goalkeeper of the Pitt Women’s Soccer team

Elliott Breech, a sophomore studying civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, hates to lose. 

Breech uses that competitive edge to her advantage – whether it’s in the classroom or commanding the backline as the Pitt Women’s Soccer team’s starting goalkeeper. The Pitt Women’s Soccer team had a historic season, undoubtedly in part due to Breech. They were ranked 11th in the entirety of the National Collegiate Association’s Division I women’s soccer teams. 

“I love being under pressure,” Breech said. “It brings out a side of me that I don’t always get to see – the super competitive side. It’s kind of like “spidey senses.””

This is the first year that Breech stepped into a starting position for the team. Her team captain and mentor, Chloe Minas, said Breech embraced it with open arms. Breech also credits Minas with providing tips and tricks to balance such a hectic lifestyle. 

“Witnessing Breech's growth, both as an engineering student and as a player, has been rewarding,” said Minas, who is studying mechanical engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School. “Breech is a hard-worker in both school and sport, and she has always displayed dedication to improving her game or grades. It's been gratifying seeing her evolve and I'm excited to continue to help her navigate challenges and celebrate her successes!"

Elliott Breech

Breech committed to Pitt as a student-athlete when she was just a freshman in high school. Even after being contacted by many other schools across the country, Pitt was easily the right choice for Breech after visiting the campus. As a native from rural, central Pennsylvania, the City of Pittsburgh offered a different atmosphere compared to that of her home. 

She also saw the success her brother’s friends had as engineering graduates of the Swanson School. 

“I knew I wanted to be an engineer at a young age,” Breech said. “I also had a strong interest in sustainability and green infrastructure.” 

Piervincenzo Rizzo, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt, said Breech shows a strong potential to be a top engineer in the industry. 

“While it is my understanding that Pitt provides significant logistic support to athletes like Elliott, I believe that the academic success, like a good GPA, of a student-athlete can only be attained by going above and beyond, including commitment to what you want to become – a civil engineer in her case – and commitment to your team,” Rizzo said.

Breech’s passion for both engineering and soccer stemmed from her love for the outdoors. Born in an incredibly remote county in Maine, she started venturing outside as soon as she could walk. Her love for nature didn’t leave her when her family eventually moved to Pennsylvania. 

Inevitably, that love spiraled into a keen interest for science as she got older – leading her to join Science Olympiad and participating (and winning) in state-level science competitions. Her desire to preserve the environment also intertwines with her focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion. She currently serves as a chair of the Student Athlete Advisory’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion subcommittee. 

Elliott Breech


“I believe there is an intersection between poor infrastructure and diversity issues,” Breech said. “As an engineer, I want to be part of helping those that suffer because of these intersections.” 

From keeping a meticulous schedule to making quick decisions, Breech said that being a goalie has helped her prepare for her engineering career. 

“As a civil engineer, I’m out in the field – just like in soccer,” Breech explained. “I’m constantly under pressure, need to analyze situations, as well as be a leader and voice. I need to communicate with my teammates.” 

She’s also gotten a lot better about losing. 

“I handle it a lot better now,” Breech said. “When I get a grade I didn’t want or let a ball hit the net, I don’t have time to dwell on it. I have to move on and focus on improving it.”