The Pitt men’s soccer team passed a significant test on Tuesday night, upsetting its first ranked team in five attempts and its first ACC opponent in three attempts when No. 12 NC State visited Ambrose Urbanic Field and was dealt a 3-1 loss after holding a one-goal lead early in the game.
”I’m very proud of our guys,” Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich said in a postgame interview. “I think they showed a lot of mental strength and character that we’ve been searching for all year. To come back from a goal down against a top team and then to then play a man down as well and get the result, I think, was a tremendous exercise for us.”
Brad Sweeney of NC State opened up the scoring in the sixth minute by converting a free kick. However, it was all Pitt after that. Panthers midfielder Jackson Walti responded in the 20th minute, knocking in a loose ball to even the score. About 10 minutes later, Marcony Pimentel added another goal off of a nice setup by Alexander Dexter, Pitt’s current assist leader.
Dexter’s night wasn’t over yet, though, as he found Pitt forward Edward Kizza, who slotted home what would be the final goal of the game in the 47th minute.
As Vidovich noted, the Panthers not only overcame an early deficit, but also had to close out the game shorthanded after Pitt defender Shane Wiedt was shown a red card in the 75th minute. However, despite the Wolfpack creating a few late scoring opportunities, Pitt goalkeeper Johan Penaranda was able to fend off the late attacks and preserve Pitt its most notable win of 2018.
Prior to Tuesday’s upset, Pitt had yet to defeat a ranked opponent and had racked up losses to Colgate, Arkon, North Carolina and most recently Louisville. While ranked opponents are typically tough outs, the last two had to be difficult losses to digest for Pitt, as each one was a late defeat at the hands of a conference opponent by a single goal.
With the victory, Pitt is now 4-4 on the season and 1-2 in conference. The team will be looking for another ACC upset, as a Virginia team currently ranked 11th in the United Soccer Coaches poll will head to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.