The Pitt men’s soccer team released its 2019 schedule on Thursday morning, revealing a 16-match regular-season slate that will begin with some stiff competition early on.
Pitt will kick off its 2019 campaign with a road match against Big Ten power Indiana in the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington on Aug. 30. Indiana went 20-3-1 and made it to the semifinals of the College Cup in 2018, meaning it was one of the final four teams standing toward the end of the postseason. Indiana also went 12-0-0 at Bill Armstrong Stadium, where the team will meet Pitt.
Two weeks after the season opener, Pitt will host Wake Forest at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Sept. 13 for its ACC opener, and that will be followed by a home matchup with perennial powerhouse Akron on Sept. 16. Both teams will be tough outs for the Panthers. The Demon Deacons went 18-3-0 and earned a berth in the College Cup. However, they were knocked out of the tournament by the Zips, who joined the Hoosiers in reaching the 2018 semifinals.
While Pitt has some less fearsome opponents, such as Delaware and Howard, scheduled as well, the vast majority of the team’s 2019 slate will pit it against goliaths of the game, as Wake Forest is just one of eight conference rivals from the loaded ACC that will face the Panthers. However, Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich, who is beginning his fourth year in Pittsburgh, is embracing the challenge.
”We’re looking forward to the 2019 season,” Vidovich said in a statement. “Our schedule provides us with a lot of opportunities to test ourselves and measure the progress we’ve made. Our fans are going to get the chance to see some high-quality soccer with the types of teams we’re welcoming to Ambrose Urbanic Field this season, but we’re also going to be road-tested. I really think this schedule will test the character of our team and help bring out the strengths of our program. Our guys have been working hard in preparation for this season with the goal of competing in the NCAA tournament, so we expect to produce some positive results this year.”
Vidovich’s optimism is not unfounded, either, as Pitt will return 2018 All-ACC selections Edward Kizza and Chandler Vaughn. Kizza earned first-team honors, while Vaughn was placed on the All-ACC freshman squad. Kizza finished last season with 15 goals, which placed him in a tie for the third-most in a single season in program history.
The team will also be bolstered by the additions of Arie Ammann, a Penn State transfer; Matt Bailey, a UMBC transfer; and Braden Kline, a Providence transfer. Those three will be joined by recruits Luke Mort from Greensburg Central Catholic in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and Veljko Petkovic from Maspeth High School in Queens, New York.
Ammann was a relatively seldom-used but highly effective goalkeeper at Penn State who posted an 87.5 save percentage last season. Bailey had five goals and one assist at UMBC in 2018, and three of his goals were game-winners. And Kline played in 54 games and started in 43 during his time at Providence.
Given all that, Pitt should have a talented and experienced core group in place this year, and the hope for Vidovich is that will be enough to propel the team to its first winning record with him at the helm.
Pitt's full schedule can be seen below:
Aug. 30 at Indiana
Sept. 1 vs. Northwestern
Sept. 6 vs. Liberty
Sept. 9 vs. Delaware
Sept. 13 vs. Wake Forest
Sept. 16 vs. Akron
Sept. 20 at Boston College
Sept. 27 at Syracuse
Sept. 30 vs. Denver
Oct. 4 vs. North Carolina
Oct. 7 vs. Howard
Oct. 11 vs. Virginia Tech
Oct. 15 at Penn State
Oct. 18 at Virginia
Oct. 25 vs. Duke
Nov. 1 at Notre Dame