The No. 2 Pitt men’s soccer team faced No. 5 Virginia at Klöckner Stadium on Sunday night, and it proved to be the better of the two ACC adversaries, leaping out to an early lead and then coming away with a 3-2 overtime victory.
Pitt’s first two goals were provided by emerging star Valentin Noel, who knocked in a ball that ricocheted off the right post of the Virginia goal in the third minute and then placed a low shot left of Virginia goalkeeper Colin Shutler for another score in the 28th minute. Pitt defender Jasper Löeffelsend tapped the ball into the box for Noel for the assist on the second goal.
The Panthers would carry that 2-0 lead into halftime after outshooting the Cavaliers 10-2 in the first 45 minutes, but the second half would be all Virginia, as the Cavaliers flipped the shooting advantage to 9-4 in their favor and eventually evened the score.
Virginia’s first goal of the game came in the 66th minute, when Virginia forward Philip Horton chipped a cross over to the left post of the Pitt goal that found Kaya Ignacio. Ignacio then knocked in the shot for the first goal of his collegiate career. Nick Berghold then worked his way through a crowded Pitt box and put a shot past Pitt goalkeeper Nico Campuzano to score an equalizer with 48.9 seconds left.
Despite losing a late lead, the Panthers wasted no time hanging their heads about the last-minute miscue and quickly regrouped in overtime. That paid off, as Pitt defender Arturo Ordoñez headed in a Raphaël Crivello corner kick in the 93rd minute for the 3-2 victory.
“We played a quality opponent who pushed us and stayed in the game until the very end,” Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich said after the game. “Our guys still have room to grow, and we are going to continue to mature. But I think this was a really great growth moment for us. It didn’t go right for us at the end of regulation, but they found a way to win it.”
Sunday night’s top-five victory kept Pitt’s record perfect at 4-0-0 and dropped Virginia to 1-1-1 on the season. It also followed a 2-1 loss by No. 1 Wake Forest to an unranked Clemson team. And while Wake Forest rebounded with a 1-0 overtime win over No. 3 North Carolina, the team may well fall in the rankings, which would allow Pitt to claim the No. 1 spot.
At this point, only three games remain in Pitt’s shortened regular season, and two are home games against opponents that the Panthers previously beat on the road. However, next up for Pitt is a matchup at Louisville, a team Pitt hammered 5-0 in a preseason exhibition game. That game is set to kick off from Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.