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Pitt men’s soccer team earns No. 1 ranking in coaches poll

The Pitt men’s soccer team reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the United Soccer Coaches poll on Tuesday, moving up from the No. 3 ranking after notching a convincing 2-0 win over Notre Dame over the weekend. The move up marks the second time Pitt has held the top ranking in the nation, as the team earned the distinction last October and retained the ranking until losing 2-1 to Clemson in the ACC title game.

Pitt leapt over Georgetown and Clemson in its ascent to the top. Last week, the Hoyas were ranked No. 2 in the poll and the Tigers were ranked No. 1. This week, Georgetown remains at No. 2, but the Tigers fell to No. 3 after posting a 0-0 draw with ACC rival Wake Forest, the No. 4 team in the poll. And the ACC’s representation in the poll was rounded out by North Carolina, which is the only team in the nation with wins over Pitt and Clemson. The Heels fell from No. 15 to No. 18 this week.

Prior to their matchup with the Fighting Irish on Saturday, the Panthers had made a habit of winning but failed to put on any dominant showings in the spring. But under the lights of Ambrose Urbanic Field this past weekend, Pitt made an example of a dangerous Notre Dame team by denying the Irish attackers scoring opportunities and relentlessly putting shots on goal at the opposite end of the pitch. The result was a 12-3 edge in shots for Pitt and a 2-0 win in which Pitt goalkeeper Nico Campuzano was called on only once to make a save.

The win was vital for Pitt, as it allowed the team to take the top spot in the ACC’s Coastal Division, setting up a potential rematch with Clemson, the current Atlantic Division leader, for the ACC crown. And Clemson’s draw had the potential to lose the team its grip on the Atlantic, as Wake Forest sits one game behind Clemson in the standings and could have taken first place with a win and a Tigers loss. But Wake Forest’s final game was canceled on Tuesday morning due to COVID-19 issues at Syracuse, so the Demon Deacons will not get a chance to win the Atlantic Division.

Now, only one game separates Pitt from what could be a historic postseason, as the team is set to face Virginia in its regular-season finale on Thursday night. A loss in the game would leave the door open for North Carolina to reclaim the Coastal Division, so Pitt will enter the matchup with the goal of controlling its own destiny with a win. But the team will have to fend off a traditional ACC power eager to end its season on a high note with an upset.