The No. 3 Pitt men’s soccer team faced No. 19 Akron on the road at First Energy Stadium on Monday night and fell 2-1 in the top-25 matchup. The adverse outcome was the second in a row Pitt suffered away from the friendly confines of Ambrose Urbanic Field, as the team also lost to bitter rival West Virginia 2-1 in Morgantown last Monday.
The Panthers’ loss to the Zips followed an eerily similar script to their loss to the Mountaineers. In both games, they gave up the opening goal early on, pulled even early in the second half and then gave up a late goal that would go unanswered. In fact, in both games, the Panthers gave up the game-winner in the 76th minute just a few seconds apart.
This time around, it was Akron midfielder Dyson Clapier who opened up the scoring in the 21st minute. Clapier headed in a ball sent his way by Akron forward Malik Henry, putting the Zips up 1-0. The goal was a result of significant pressure applied by the Zips in the first half, as they outshot Pitt 9-5 in the opening frame. But Clapier’s goal would be all they had to show for it in the first 45 minutes.
After heading into the halftime break down 1-0, the Panthers would strike back early in the second half, as Pitt midfielder Raphael Crivello headed in a shot in the 59th minute. That opportunity was set up by Pitt midfielder Filip Mirkovic, and it gave Crivello the first goal of his Pitt career and Mirkovic his third assist of the season and the fifth of his career.
Despite the lift from the goal, Pitt would have its hopes dashed 17 minutes later by Akron midfielder Diogo Pacheca, who knocked in a close-range shot off of a cross fed into him from the corner. And with a little less than 14 minutes left on the clock, Pitt would fail to respond, leaving the final score at 2-1.
Pitt’s loss to Akron dropped the team to 2-2 on the season, and the stumble came at an inopportune time, as the United Soccer Coaches poll will be updated on Tuesday. With Pitt’s recent loss to West Virginia, the team needed to rebound to prove it still belonged in the national top five. But with two losses to teams of lesser rank, Pitt will be lucky to remain in the national top 15.
With that said, Pitt will have ample opportunity to prove itself against elite opponents, as the team will wade into its ACC schedule and has a date with ranked rival Penn State on the horizon. All told, the Panthers have six teams still on their slate that are ranked, including its next four. The first in that group will be No. 6 North Carolina in Pitt’s ACC opener. That ACC tilt is set to get underway from Ambrose Urbanic Field — where Pitt has won 12 straight games and last lost in 2019 — at 7 p.m. ET.