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Pitt men’s soccer notches 3-2 win over Temple

PittsburghPanthers.com

The Pitt men’s soccer team hosted in-state rival Temple on Monday night after suffering losses to Cleveland State and Virginia Tech over the previous week, and the result was an uplifting change of pace, as the Panthers were able to top the Owls 3-2 at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

In addition to the positive result, Pitt showed a degree of dominance, as the team never trailed in the contest. Midfielder Javi Perez opened up the scoring in the 28th minute, slotting a penalty kick into the bottom right of the net. The kick came after Temple defender Akeem Prawl took down Pitt’s Robby Dambrot in the penalty area, and the goal resulted in a long-held 1-0 lead.

Temple forward Elias Hellgren Villegas came up with a response in the 50th minute, tying the game. But Pitt regained momentum after the 60th minute with two scores in relatively rapid succession. The first was off the foot of forward Alexander Dexter, who redirected a failed clearance from Temple midfielder Nick Sarver and found the back of the net in the 63rd minute.

Forward Edward Kizza would come up with Pitt’s third and final score of the night, as he banged in a scorcher after being set up in front of the net by Dexter in the 67th minute. It was his 12th goal of the year, which is the sixth-most scored by a Pitt player in a single season. Bob Cherry holds the program record, as he scored 18 in 1955.

Pitt would concede a final goal to Temple forward Lukas Fernandes in the 80th minute, bringing the tally to 3-2 in the home team’s favor. But despite the result, Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich was unimpressed with the Panthers’ overall effort and apparently took issue with the team’s somewhat lackluster performance early in the first half and late in the game.

”I think we saw about five minutes tonight where we really strung some passes together with great movement up high, we had some great possession and attacking motions, and we also had some very good defensive action,” Vidovich said in a postgame interview. “But for the most part, it was hit or miss out there, so it is something that we have to find.”

On a more macro level, Pitt’s win was significant in that the team finally pushed back against a Temple squad that has historically had its number. Entering the game, the Panthers were 3-9-1 against the Owls and had most recently lost to them 2-1 on the road in 2016.

With Monday’s win in the books, Pitt is down to its last three games of the season, and matters won’t be getting any easier. First, the Panthers will head down to Durham to take on a Duke team riding a four-game winning streak. They will then head to Morgantown for this year’s installment of the Backyard Brawl before closing out the season against Notre Dame at home in an ACC tilt.

Now at 7-7 on the season and 2-4 in conference, Pitt will head to Duke this Friday and look to improve its standing in the ACC before the close of the season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.