The No. 15 Pitt men’s soccer team faced No. 4 North Carolina in their ACC opener at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Friday night, and the Panthers put on a solid performance from start to finish, outscoring the Tar Heels 4-0 and sending them home with their first loss of the season.
Pitt wasted no time getting to work, as the team got on the board in the 12th minute. Jasper Löeffelsend found Veljko Petkovic in the box, and Petkovic whipped a shot past the outstretched hand of North Carolina goalkeeper Alec Smir. The goal put Pitt up 1-0 and was a positive sign for the Panthers, as it was the earliest they had scored all season.
The Panthers’ next goal came in the 20th minute, after Jackson Walti and Valentin Noel charged into the box and Noel put a shot on goal that was deflected by Smir. Petkovic collected the ball and tapped it to his right to Rodrigo Almeida, who blasted a shot into the open net to make it 2-0, Panthers.
Almeida would strike again in the 36th minute, when he caught Smir well off his line and sailed a shot over his head from about 30 yards out. The goal gave the senior midfielder the first brace of his Pitt career and his fourth goal of the season. It also set the Panthers up with a 3-0 lead they would hold at the half.
The same story would unfold in the second half, only faster. Just two and a half minutes into the final frame, Alexander Dexter burned North Carolina defender Joe Pickering in a footrace and sent a pass into the box that would find Valentin Noel. Noel then one-timed it to give Pitt its final 4-0 advantage.
With the win, Pitt stopped the bleeding from its two recent road losses to West Virginia and Akron and improved to 3-2. The Panthers also made life tough on United Soccer Coaches poll voters, as they will now have to weigh the team’s two early losses against a decisive shutout of the No. 4 team in the country.
In its next game, Pitt will face another rival on the road, as the team will head to University Park to take on Penn State in a nationally televised match. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, and it will air on FS1.