And with that, the Panthers have their first men's soccer ACC victory.
The Pitt men's soccer team has struggled badly ever since the school made the jump to the ACC. The Panthers' had yet to win a conference game heading into this season and looked like a program without much of a plan when they moved to the ACC.
Now, however, the program appears headed in the right direction. On Friday, the team not only got its first ever ACC win, but they defeated a ranked No. 21 Syracuse team, 2-1.
At the end of 2015, Pitt hired renowned coach Jay Vidovich to head the program after the retirement of Joe Luxbacher. Last year's team was a miserable 2-16-3, but there were signs that better days were coming as eight of those losses were only by one goal.
This year, the team has played only ten matches so far but they've seen a drastic improvement. Despite playing a pretty tough schedule (three of their matches have been against ranked teams), Pitt stands at 5-5. And on Friday, they picked up a conference win and a signature win all in the same night.
A lot will be made of the first ACC win as it should. But what shouldn't be lost is that the men's soccer program has struggled for a long time and even before joining the ACC. In their last year in the Big East (2012), they lost ever conference matchup. The program also hasn't finished .500 or better since 2008. Pitt's program has been bad in the ACC, but in reality, they were bad before that, too.
Vidovich's hire was the key but he doesn't improve the team without players and despite a short time here and trying to recruit to a program that has been stagnant, he's already doing that. He landed prized Top 50 recruit Edward Kizza this year and Kizza is already paying huge dividends. He has four goals on the season and scored the first one in the Syracuse game. His four goals lead the team, which is remarkable, considering he's only played in seven of the Panthers' ten matches.
Also fueling the fire is freshman Colin Brezniak. Brezniak is second on the team in goals with three behind only Kizza and he scored Pitt's second goal against the Orange on Friday. There's been a lot of hype surrounding Kizza, but Brezniak himself shouldn't be overlooked. He was a top 100 recruit and, as I wrote earlier, Pitt also has a massive commit for next year in top 20 player Chandler Vaughn. That Vidovich is landing these types of players to a program that has struggled so much is nothing short of miraculous.
There's a long way to go, obviously. But the program is turning around in a hurry under Vidovich.