The Pitt men’s soccer team started the season off with a tough 1-0 loss to No. 25 Colgate last Friday at Ambrose Urbanic Field, but the Panthers rebounded in spectacular fashion on Monday night, defeating the Delaware Blue Hens on the road in a 6-1 rout. Pitt forward Edward Kizza led the way with a hat trick and was a constant threat in the Panthers’ attack in Monday’s victory.
”I’m proud of the concentration our team brought to the match,” Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich said in a postgame interview. “We are growing as a team. Our relationships on both sides of the ball are improving, as is our willingness to work for each other. We created some tremendous team goals that lead me to believe that we have a lot of potential in front of us.”
While the team showed an impressive degree of cohesion during the matchup, the story of the night was undoubtedly Kizza’s performance, as he accomplished a rare feat and set a record. Specifically, he became one of 20 players in Pitt history to notch a hat trick, and his first goal, which came one minute and 40 seconds into the game, was the fastest in program history.
The second goal of the game was also a result of Kizza’s effort, as he was taken down while driving to the goal, earning Pitt a penalty kick that Javi Perez converted to pad the early lead.
Robby Dambrot kept the momentum going with a goal in the 19th minute, slotting a well-placed shot past Delaware goalkeeper Todd Morton. Kizza followed that up with one of the more entertaining goals of the night, as he burst over Delaware defender Soren Frost to head in a perfectly lofted cross from Pitt’s Chandler Vaughn in the 37th minute.
Nyk Sessock set up Pitt’s next opportunity about a minute later, finding Fiorre Mane in the goal area. Mane redirected Sessock’s pass and found the back of the net, making the score 5-0, Pitt, ahead of the halftime break. However, the second half saw the Panthers ease off the gas a bit.
Pitt came out of the break decidedly less hungry and was made to pay for its complacency just over 10 minutes later, as Delaware midfielder Ryan Mertz, a native of Pittsburgh suburb Upper St. Clair, wedged a corner kick into traffic in front of the goal. This led to a collision, and Pitt goalkeeper Johan Penaranda fell, allowing Delaware’s Robert Campbell to chip in a shot.
This was quickly answered by Kizza, who knocked in a loose ball from just beyond the goal area to secure his hat trick as well as a 6-1 victory for Pitt.
While the result was just about ideal for Pitt, it’s worth noting that Delaware is a team that’s fallen on tough times. The Blue Hens went 5-7-4 last season and came into Monday’s matchup 0-1 on the year after losing to Villanova in their season opener. The Panthers will need to sustain this level of play, though, as they’ll face stiffer challenges in Akron and North Carolina soon.
Pitt will face Akron in its next matchup, which will be its second game of a four-game road trip. The Zips went 18-4-2 in 2017, and along with the Tar Heels, they were one of the final four teams standing in the NCAA tournament last season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.