The Pitt men’s soccer team faced Washington in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA tournament, and the Huskies provided the Panthers with a difficult test as a stout defensive team that had yet to concede a goal. Still, Pitt managed to crack their code and pull off a 3-0 win to advance to the College Cup as one of the last four teams standing in the tournament.
The first half saw the Panthers get the majority of the offensive chances, as the Huskies were trapped in their half of the field for prolonged periods. However, Pitt failed to capitalize on early chances, as Veljko Petkovic hammered a shot off the crossbar in the 26th minute, and Bertin Jacquesson and Jasper Löeffelsend both put dangerous shots on goal but saw them fended off in the 27th minute.
Washington also reeled off a worrisome shot, as Ryan Sailor hit the Pitt crossbar with an attempt in the 33rd minute. But by halftime, the contest remained deadlocked at 0-0.
Nico Campuzano was forced into action early in the second half, making his first save of the game just over a minute in. And the Huskies would prove to be the more aggressive team in the first few minutes. But Pitt stayed the course, continuing to pressure Washington, and that would pay off in short order.
In the 52nd minute, Jasper Löeffelsend sent a cross into the box that Valentin Noel would head in to give the Panthers a 1-0 advantage. The goal was Noel’s 14th of the season, and it would be all Pitt needed to knock off seventh-seeded Washington and advance. However, the Panthers would tack on two more goals in the final three minutes of the matchup.
Jacquesson would score on an empty net from about 40 yards out in the 88th minute, as Washington goalkeeper Sam Fowler was caught well off his line and beaten back to the goal by the Frenchman. And in the 89th minute, Petkovic sent a bomb of a shot into the back of the net from midfield when Fowler was off his line once again. All told, the Panthers would dispatch the Huskies by a score of 3-0.
With the win, the Panthers advance to the College Cup for the first time in program history. There, Pitt will face the winner of the matchup between Indiana and Seton Hall. The only other team to punch its ticket to the College Cup is Marshall, which defeated defending champion Georgetown 1-0 on Monday. Marshall will face the winner of the Wake Forest-North Carolina game. Pitt will play its College Cup match Friday.