The No. 2 Pitt Panthers men’s soccer team (3-0) handily defeated Virginia Tech (0-1) at Ambrose Urbanic Field 4-2 in their first home match of the season Saturday.
Aggressive, attacking-minded play by both sides dominated the first half. Pitt got the upper hand almost immediately with a clinical finish from sophomore midfielder Veljko Petkovic in the third minute of play.
Virginia Tech quickly answered with several chances of their own. Shortly after a point-blank miss from Hokies striker Jacob Labovitz, he managed a nice pass into the box and striker Kristo Strickler finished it off for the Hokies to tie the game 1-1 in the 13th minute.
Both sides continued to make forward runs and send balls through. The Panthers eventually capitalized on a beautiful run by senior fullback Jasper Löeffelsend, who delivered a creative assist to the feet of sophomore midfielder Valentin Noel in the 25th minute, giving Pitt a 2-1 lead.
Play slowed significantly after the third goal of the game. Both teams ended the first half with six shots, but Pitt generated more quality chances than the Hokies, placing five shots on target, while Tech only managed three. The 2-1 lead that Pitt took to the locker room reflected the quality of the Panthers’ first half play.
Virginia Tech pressed the Panther back line to begin the second half, but Pitt provided a brilliant counter attack. Löeffelsend sent a perfect pass to first-year forward Bertin Jacquesson, who crossed the ball to senior forward Alexander Dexter for a goal. This textbook attack gave Pitt a 3-1 lead in the 49th minute, which they’d hold for quite a while.
Pitt halted all of Virginia Tech’s threatening attacks for the majority of the half, and possessed the ball extremely well. The Hokies began to create higher quality chances near the end of the game, though, resulting in an 85th minute goal from Strickler.
Throughout the evening, Pitt always seemed to have an answer. Just two minutes later, Petkovic placed an impeccable cross at the feet of Noel, who finished for his second goal of the night in the 87th minute. The score gave the Panthers a 4-2 advantage, which they held for the remainder of the match.
Despite out-shooting the Panthers eight to four in the second half, Virginia Tech simply could not complete enough of their dangerous attacks near the end of the game.
The Panthers travel to Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday to face the No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers, where they will look to keep their perfect start going.