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No. 7 Pitt men’s soccer team bests Duke 4-3 in double OT

Valentin Noel returned to form with two goals, and Arturo Ordoñez scored his second game-winner of the season

The seventh-ranked Pitt men’s soccer team faced Duke at Koskinen Stadium in Durham on Friday night, and despite being down a man for the majority of the game, the Panthers beat the Blue Devils 4-3 in double-overtime.

Pitt fell behind early, as Duke forward Daniel Wright converted a penalty kick at the 2:35 mark after Pitt defender Bryce Washington was called for a foul in the box. The Panthers would answer 24 minutes later, as Pitt forward Bertin Jacquesson found Pitt midfielder Valentin Noel at the top of the box, and Noel put a shot into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

After Noel’s goal, the Panthers attacked relentlessly, as they reeled off six of their 10 first-half shots after getting on the board. However, none found the back of the net, and Pitt lost a key contributor, as Veljko Petkovic was shown a red card at the end of the first half, leaving the Panthers down a man.

Despite the disadvantage, Pitt struck first in the second half, as Noel banked a shot in off the left post eight minutes after play resumed. About four minutes later, Filip Mirkovic gave the Panthers their third goal of the night, as he knocked in a loose ball after a corner kick to provide Pitt with a 3-1 advantage.

The Blue Devils would strike back and even the score at 3-3 in an equally productive four-minute span. Those goals came off the feet of Duke forwards Miguel Ramirez and Thorleifur Ulfarsson in the 67th and 71st minutes. The goals were the first of their college careers, and they would go unanswered in regulation.

The first overtime period saw no changes to the score line, but Pitt defender Arturo Ordoñez crashed into the box and headed in a loose ball with 3:27 left on the clock in the second overtime period for a goal, securing a 4-3 win for the Panthers. The goal was the second of Ordoñez's career. His first came earlier this season and was also a game-winning header in an overtime period. That Ordoñez goal gave Pitt a 3-2 win over Virginia on Oct. 18.

“I am very proud of the effort tonight,” Pitt coach Jay Vidovich said after the game. “Our preparation for the match this week was fantastic, and our mental toughness is coming through again. It’s a great team win. Our bench was used tonight, and our leading scorer Val moved to left back to help us secure the win. Everybody did their part, stayed true to themselves, believed and took it to the end.”

One of the highlights of the game was the return to form of Noel. His two goals led the Panthers, and his performance ended a three-game scoring drought. Prior to that, Noel had scored in six straight games for Pitt. And with the two-goal showing, Noel posted the first 10-goal season of his career. That makes this season the third season in a row that Pitt has had a 10-goal scorer, as Edward Kizza topped the mark in 2018 and 2019. Before Kizza, Pitt went 19 years without a 10-goal scorer.

The win lifted Pitt to 10-2 on the season and secured the team its second straight 10-win campaign. This is the first time Pitt has had back-to-back 10-win seasons since the 1985 and 1986 seasons. Prior to 1986, it had never happened in program history. In addition, Pitt’s current 83.3 win percentage is the second-highest win percentage posted in program history, and the team has not won games at this rate since its inaugural 1954 season.

Pitt has three games left on its regular-season schedule, and all three are against opponents the team previously defeated in the fall. Next up will be a matchup with a Virginia Tech team Pitt beat 4-2 on Oct. 10. The Hokies are 4-5-2 this season and will ride a three-game losing streak into their matchup with the Panthers. That game is set to be played in Blacksburg on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET.