More than 1,300 fans were at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Thursday night to see the Pitt men’s soccer team take on Lehigh in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and they would not leave disappointed, as the Panthers blanked the Mountain Hawks 2-0 to bring the eastern Pennsylvania team's season to an end.
Pitt was the more aggressive team from the onset, as it outshot Lehigh 9-4 in the first half. The Panthers also put four of their nine first-half shots on target, and that would be the difference in the game, as Pitt forward Edward Kizza and Pitt defender Bryce Washington both beat Lehigh goalkeeper Will Smith to put their team ahead. Lehigh would have no response.
Kizza’s goal came in the 18th minute, when Pitt forward Alexander Dexter sent a cross his way. The Ugandan forward made the most of the opportunity and found the back of the net for his 12th goal of the season.
The Washington goal came in the 44th minute, when Pitt forward Josh Hesson sent a cross into the box and the Atlanta native converted on the chance by tapping the ball past Smith to put Pitt up 2-0 before the half.
Pitt maintained its dogged approach during the second half, once again outshooting Lehigh 9-4 and putting four shots on target. However, the Panthers did not get any of their shots past Smith in the second frame. Fortunately for them, the Mountain Hawks were only able to put one shot on goal in the final 45 minutes, and it would be no match for Pitt goalkeeper Arie Ammann, who had four saves and logged his third solo clean sheet of the season.
The win thrusts Pitt into the second round of the NCAA tournament, where the team is set to face off against third-seeded Georgetown in Washington, D.C. It also improves Pitt’s record to 10-7-2 on the year, marking the first time the Panthers have reached 10 wins since the 2008 season, and gives Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich the 300th victory of his career.
Pitt’s matchup with Georgetown is set for Sunday at noon ET. The winner of that game will play the winner of Louisville vs. UC Davis.