The Pitt men’s soccer team faced Indiana in the College Cup on Friday night, and despite a characteristically strong showing early on, the Panthers fell to the Hoosiers 1-0, bringing a season for the ages to a disappointing end.
The first half belonged to the Panthers, as they kept the ball in the Hoosiers’ portion of the field and put two shots on goal. Their opponents were unable to log any shots on goal. One of Pitt’s chances came from Valentin Noel, who headed a shot into the arms of Indiana goalkeeper Roman Celentano. Veljko Petkovic also put a low, skittering shot on goal and skied another shot over the crossbar. And former Pitt defender Nyk Sessock, who is now with Indiana, narrowly avoided an own goal.
But Pitt’s luck ran out in the second half, as Indiana played the role of the aggressor and seemed to suddenly put the Panthers on their heels. Once again, Pitt would not want for chances, as Filip Mirkovic banged a shot off the crossbar and onto the line, prompting an official review, and Bryce Washington and Valentin Noel both came up with dangerous headers. However, the only shot that mattered would come off the foot of a Hoosier.
With 11:12 left in the match, a ball Pitt was unable to clear found its way to Indiana forward Herbert Endeley, and he put a laser of a shot past Nico Campuzano and into the back of the net. That furnished Indiana with a 1-0 lead late in the game, and despite the efforts of the Panthers to erase the deficit, the goal would go unanswered. As a result, Indiana would escape with a narrow victory.
With the loss, Pitt’s season comes to an end. However, the team finishes with an impressive 16-4 record, marking the first time Pitt has reached 16 wins in program history. And beyond the program level, it was the first time any Pitt team reached a contest of such consequence in four and a half decades.
Now, with Pitt a known national power in soccer, Panthers head coach Jay Vidovich will look to reload for next season and work to build on the success of this campaign.