The Pitt men’s soccer team failed to improve on its eight-win 2017 campaign in 2018, but Panthers head coach Jay Vidovich recruited well, putting his team in a position to take steps forward in the coming years. That was recognized by Top Drawer Soccer in its recent postseason lists of the top 100 freshmen and the top 100 collegiate players overall.
Defender Chandler Vaughn, goalkeeper Johan Peñaranda and midfielder Jackson Walti of Pitt were ranked the 25th, 54th and 99th freshmen in the nation, respectively, by the website. Meanwhile, forward Edward Kizza and midfielder Javi Perez of the Panthers placed 45th and 65th among sophomores and upperclassmen active in the 2018 season.
Kizza’s inclusion on the list is the least surprising of the bunch, as he more than tripled his output from his freshman season, scoring a team-high 15 goals in 2018 compared to four in the previous year. Perez is also well known as one of the team’s top players, and that much has been confirmed by his receipt of an invite to the 2019 MLS Player Combine.
As for the freshmen, Vaughn lived up to expectations, as he was included on Top Drawer’s preseason team of the top freshmen in the nation and finished the season ranked among the best in his class. However, he was joined by two newly recognized members of his class, as Walti and Peñaranda were also included among the top 100 underclassmen in the website's postseason honor roll.
Perhaps the more notable of those two freshmen is Peñaranda, a goalkeeper who was once the top recruit in the state of New York and the No. 21 overall recruit in the nation before coming to Pitt. He saw extensive action in his first year under Vidovich, playing over 1,500 minutes and recording 41 saves and four clean sheets during that time. He should continue to play regularly as a sophomore and should see an uptick in his play having had a full season to acclimate to the college game.
With Kizza entering his junior season and Pitt’s top young talent concentrated in the middle and back of the pitch, Vidovich will soon need to find reinforcements up front. But given his track record of bringing elite talent to Pitt, it seems like that shouldn’t be too tall an order.