The Pitt men’s soccer team took on No. 22 Virginia Tech at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Friday night, and the result was a 3-1 upset of the ranked team. In fact, it was Pitt’s first win over Virginia Tech in program history.
The Panthers were aggressive on the offensive half of the pitch early in the game, as they outshot the Hokies 10-2 in the first half. However, nothing came of the chances in the first 45 minutes, and the two sides went into halftime with the score even at zero.
Virginia Tech fought back in the second half, outshooting Pitt 10-8. But Pitt would ultimately get the better opportunities. The floodgates opened in the 72nd minute, when Pitt midfielder Valentin Noel beat several Virginia Tech defenders and placed a shot in the lower right corner to put the Panthers up 1-0.
Less than a minute later, Pitt forward Edward Kizza added to the Panthers’ lead with an astounding goal. From just beyond the right boundary of the goal box, he banked a sharply angled shot off of the back of Virginia Tech goalkeeper Mathijs Swaneveld that bounced in for a score, putting Pitt up by two.
In the 75th minute, Kizza tapped a pass over to Pitt midfielder Veljko Petkovic at the top of the penalty box that the freshman slotted home to put the Panthers up 3-0. Four minutes later, the Hokies mustered a response, as Virginia Tech forward Jacob Labovitz beat Pitt goalkeeper Arie Ammann to make the score 3-1. But that would be the Hokies' last stand, as they fell to the Panthers for their third ACC loss.
”It’s another step,” Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich said during a postgame interview. “It’s a double-step. One was to beat Virginia Tech. It’s also where we are in the ACC, it’s an important win to now be 2-2-1. So that’s good and getting us some points that way and keeping us alive for ambitions in the ACC as well as trying to claw our way into the national limelight. It was a key win for us.”
Friday night’s ACC matchup served as a showcase of Pitt’s star talent, as Kizza shined in the upset win, logging his eighth goal and third assist of the season. He leads the team in goals and appears poised to record his second double-digit goal total in two seasons.
Alongside Kizza on the stat sheet, as has become increasingly common, were Petkovic and Noel, both of whom have put on stellar performances as freshmen. Petkovic ranks second on the team in points behind Kizza, who has 19, with 12 on four goals and a team-leading four assists. And Noel has facilitated two goals and scored three of his own.
With the win, Pitt improves to 6-4-2 overall and 2-2-1 in conference, and Virginia Tech drops to 6-3-2 and 0-3-2 in the ACC. The Panthers are now in third place in the ACC Coastal, and the Hokies are firmly in the ACC cellar, with Syracuse as the only other winless team.
With four games remaining on the regular-season schedule, Pitt is within striking distance of its first winning season since 2008. However, the team will have to navigate a late-season slate that includes Penn State, Virginia, Duke and Notre Dame in order to do so. The first of those teams Pitt will face is Penn State, and the Panthers will take on the Nittany Lions in University Park on Tuesday. Kickoff from Jeffrey Field is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.