The Pitt men’s soccer team enjoyed unprecedented success during the 2020-21 season, reaching the College Cup after a dominant run through the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament. Now, it seems that success is expected to carry over into the fall, as the Panthers were ranked No. 3 in the nation in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll, which was released on Wednesday.
Ahead of Pitt in the national ranking is Indiana, the program that topped Pitt 1-0 in the College Cup semifinal, and ahead of Indiana is Marshall, the team that defeated Indiana 1-0 in the national championship. Pitt is the highest-ranked of five ACC teams featured in the preseason poll. The other four are North Carolina, Clemson, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, which come in at Nos. 4, 6, 7 and 15, respectively, in the national ranking.
The No. 3 ranking is the highest preseason ranking that has ever been assigned to Pitt. The previous high was the No. 4 ranking Pitt received before the start of the 2020-21 season. And with Pitt appearing in the preseason poll in 2021, the team has now been ranked for 20 straight weeks, with the Panthers earning a ranking in every United Soccer Coaches poll dating back to Sept. 22, 2020.
Last season, Pitt went 16-4 overall and 9-1 in the ACC, winning the ACC Coastal for the first time in program history and then advancing to the NCAA tournament. Pitt was also ranked No. 1 in the United Soccer Coaches poll for the first time in program history and saw multiple players honored at the conference and national levels. That included All-American and ACC Offensive Player of the Year Valentin Noel and ACC Freshman of the Year Bertin Jacquesson, both of whom will return in 2021.
Pitt will get its 2021 preseason underway with an exhibition matchup with Robert Morris on Aug. 14. And the team will get the regular season started with a City Game matchup with crosstown rival Duquesne on Aug. 26.