The No. 1 Pitt men’s soccer team had an opportunity to secure a top seed in the NCAA tournament with a win over No. 4 Clemson in the ACC automatic qualifier game on Saturday night, but the Panthers once again fell to the Tigers 2-0 at Riggs Field in South Carolina.
The game was a rematch of the ACC title game played on Nov. 22. In that matchup, Pitt, which was the No. 1 team in the nation, fell to No. 2 Clemson by a score of 2-1. In both games, the Panthers appeared to be overwhelmed by the Tigers, but on Saturday, they failed to even mount a response and crumbled late.
Pitt found itself on the defensive often in the first half, and Clemson opened up the scoring in the 17th minute, when Quinn McNeill got a shot past Pitt goalkeeper Nico Campuzano to put the Tigers up 1-0. The Panthers would endure another scare before halftime, as a Clemson shot ricocheted off the Pitt crossbar but was corralled in the box by Campuzano.
In the second half, a more aggressive Pitt team emerged and created scoring chances. But the Tigers defense refused to fold and applied constant pressure to Panthers attackers in the final third. As a result, little came of those chances, and when Pitt attackers got clean shots, they seemed unsure of what to do.
The same could not be said of the Tigers, as they got another scoring opportunity in the 84th minute and capitalized on it, with Isaiah Reid being the beneficiary. As a result, No. 4 Clemson upset No. 1 Pitt 2-0 and secured the ACC’s automatic bid for the NCAA tournament. The Tigers should also earn a top seed.
As for Pitt, the team will likely fall back in the national rankings and will await word from the NCAA selection committee on its placement in the tournament. This year, the field has been reduced from 48 teams to 36. Tournament selections will be made on Monday.