The No. 15 Pitt men’s soccer team traveled to University Park on Monday night to face Penn State in a nationally televised rivalry matchup, and in that matchup, the Panthers scored early and kept the Nittany Lions at arm’s length for most of the contest, winning 1-0.
For the second game in a row, Pitt made a point of getting on the board early. And this time, it was Pitt midfielder Rodrigo Almeida who found the back of the net to give the Panthers an early 1-0 advantage.
Almeida’s goal was set up in the sixth minute by Pitt defender Jasper Löeffelsend, who sped down the right side of the field and sent the ball back through two Penn State defenders to Almeida. Almeida then hit the ball in stride and tucked it just inside the right post.
Pitt would control possession for the remainder of the half and claim the lion’s share of scoring opportunities, as the team outshot Penn State 8-2 and drew four corner kicks to the hosts’ zero. But despite those chances, the Panthers would fail to capitalize and would not extend their lead before the halftime break.
The second half saw Penn State come out of the gate more aggressive, but that soon gave way to a more back-and-forth game. And by the time the last 45 minutes had ticked away, the Panthers had once again outshot the Nittany Lions 8-3 and once again drew four corner kicks, while the hosts had drawn just three. However, the score remained 1-0.
With the win, the Panthers improved to 4-2 on the season and gave themselves an opportunity to hang around in the national rankings after losses to West Virginia and Akron threatened to drop them out of the top 25. But now, with a 4-0 upset of No. 4 North Carolina and a 1-0 win over a rival, Pitt appears to be over its early-season stumbles.
The team’s timing could not be better either, as it now faces two trips to the Carolinas to face Wake Forest and Clemson to close out September. The Panthers’ next matchup against the Demon Deacons will take place at W. Dennie Spry Soccer Stadium in Winston-Salem. Kickoff is set for Friday at 8 p.m. ET.