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Pitt men’s soccer moves up in rank to No. 2 in the nation

The Panthers moved up two spots in the United Soccer Coaches poll after a 3-1 victory over No. 5 Notre Dame

The Pitt men’s soccer team kicked off the season as the No. 4 team in the country, and after its convincing 3-1 win over No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday night, the team climbed to No. 2 in the United Soccer Coaches poll on Tuesday afternoon. The ranking is the highest achieved by the Panthers in their program’s history, which dates back 66 years to 1954.

Once again, the traditional top 25 poll has been cut down to a top five, and this week, the quintet of teams also includes Wake Forest, which retains its spot at No. 1; Clemson, which falls back one spot from last week to No. 3; Kentucky, which is ranked for the first time this season at No. 4; and Virginia, which comes in at No. 5 after a No. 3 ranking in the first poll.

Pitt’s improved standing suggests there is little doubt about the team’s staying power, and it has made a good case for its dominance in the sport over the last year, with wins over No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday as well as No. 1 Virginia and No. 22 Virginia Tech last October.

With that said, questions linger over how consistent the team will be with star forward Edward Kizza missing from the lineup this season. Kizza was removed from the team’s roster shortly before the season opener against Notre Dame, and no reason was given for his departure from the team.

Starting in Kizza’s place on Saturday night was Bertin Jacquesson, who paired well with Alexander Dexter at the head of the Pitt attack. Jacquesson and Dexter both scored against the Fighting Irish, with each player assisting on the other’s goal, and Jacquesson, a freshman, earned ACC Player of the Week honors for his standout performance in his collegiate debut.

Jacquesson and Dexter will lead Pitt into Syracuse next Tuesday, and the team will aim to keep its record unblemished against an Orange team that went 8-7-5 last season. The Orange have yet to take the field in 2020 after preseason matchups with Navy and Virginia were canceled. Kickoff from SU Soccer Stadium is set for 7 p.m. ET.