The Pitt men’s soccer team soundly defeated West Virginia 7-0 in the 2017 edition of the Backyard Brawl at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Tuesday night, scoring four goals in rapid succession to end the first half and adding three more to close out the game.
Alex Peperak opened up the scoring in the 33rd minute, and Pol Planellas tacked on another from 40 yards out in the 36th minute. Pitt continued to score in three-minute increments, adding goals from Joshua Gaspari in the 39th minute and Alexander Dexter in the 42nd minute.
Freshman Edward Kizza got things started again for Pitt less than a minute into the second half, tapping in a well-placed ball by Gaspari, and he added another less than 10 minutes later. Tim Ekpone then notched the final goal of the night for the Panthers in the 65th minute.
Kizza’s performance was particularly encouraging, as the former Top 50 recruit had only accounted for one goal heading into Tuesday night’s game. The hope is that this could be the start of more consistent contributions from a future star.
In terms of the rivalry between Pitt and West Virginia, it was a historic night. Tuesday’s result was Pitt’s first win over West Virginia since 2000, and it was the Panthers’ largest margin of victory over the Mountaineers ever. It was also something of an unlikely win, as Pitt brought a 3-5-0 record into the game against a 6-1-2 Mountaineers team.
Head coach Jay Vidovich wasn’t shy about expressing what the victory meant to him and the team after the game.
“(A win like this) can give us hope and belief, “ he said during his postgame interview. “Hopefully they learn from that that if you stay disciplined and play together that we can overcome.”
With the win, Pitt improved to 4-5-0 on the season, and that record is largely due to solid performances at home, where the Panthers are now 3-1-0. That’s a huge turnaround from last season, when the team went 0-5-2 at Ambrose Urbanic Field.
Of course, the team still faces a few lingering issues. While the Panthers look stronger than they did in their two-win campaign in 2016, they’ve continued to struggle on the road, logging just one win in four away games.
Their struggles in conference matchups have also carried over into 2017, as they’ve yet to beat an ACC opponent in three attempts. That’s especially worrisome, since the team hasn’t won a conference game since joining the ACC in 2013.
The Panthers will get an opportunity improve their conference record on Friday, when they take on a 5-3-2 Syracuse team at home. The Orange are also winless against ACC opposition this season, but they’ve played to a 3-0-1 record on the road and are currently ranked 21st in the nation. So they’ll be a tough out for Pitt.