The Pitt men’s soccer team was bounced from the NCAA tournament by Indiana in a 1-0 loss in a Final Four matchup on Friday night, and the tournament concluded on Monday night, with Marshall defeating Indiana 1-0 for the national championship. With that said, the Panthers made a statement in the postseason, and two of them were recognized for their efforts as members of the All-Tournament team.
Pitt defender Jasper Löeffelsend and Pitt midfielder Filip Mirkovic both earned spots on the nine-man team. The other honorees included Marshall’s Victor Dias, Nathan Dos Santos, Vinicius Fernandes and Max Schneider; Indiana’s Herbert Endeley and Joey Maher; and North Carolina’s Joe Pickering. In addition, Marshall forward Jamil Roberts was named Most Outstanding Offensive Player, and Indiana goalkeeper Roman Celentano was named Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Löeffelsend was solid as a defender for Pitt throughout the tournament, and he led a back line that posted two clean sheets and allowed just two goals in a span of four games. The defender was also an asset on offense, as he logged assists in Pitt’s wins over Monmouth and Washington. As a result, he ended the season with nine assists, leading Pitt in the category and ranking fourth in the nation.
Mirkovic logged no goals or assists for Pitt in the tournament, but he played his role to perfection and set crucial scoring plays into motion. Notably, he found Löeffelsend on the right side of the box in Pitt’s Elite Eight matchup with Washington, spreading out the defense and creating open space for Valentin Noel to score on a header. Noel would score, and the goal would be a game-winner.
The Serbian midfielder also dispossessed UCF defender Andres Hernandez Betancur of a mishandled ball and created a scoring chance for Veljko Petkovic early in Pitt’s Sweet 16 game. Petkovic would score 23 seconds into the match, setting a program record for fastest goal scored in a game thanks to Mirkovic. That goal would also be a game-winner.
As for the non-Pitt honorees, Celentano is a sensible choice for Most Outstanding Defensive Player, as he stonewalled Pitt, which was the tournament’s top offensive team. And Jamil Roberts was selected for the Most Outstanding Offensive Player honor after scoring three goals in the tournament, including a game-winner that beat Celentano.
With that said, Noel and Petkovic could be viewed as a snubs for the honor, as they both posted three goals in the tournament as well, including game-winners against Washington and UCF. They also led the tournament’s most potent offense. But with all three of Roberts’ goals being game-winners in upset victories, it seems the right selection was made. And with Mirkovic, Noel and Petkovic all set to return for at least one more season, the future of the Pitt men's soccer program should be bright.