The 2022 edition of the “City Game” between Duquesne and the Pittsburgh Panthers men’s soccer teams was a fiery matchup on an otherwise frigid Monday night at Pitt’s Ambrose Urbanic Field. Duquesne came into the matchup ranked #25 in the most recent coaches poll, one spot above Pitt who had slipped in recent weeks, winning only one of their last six matches. With Pitt having never lost to the Dukes at any point in their last 12 matches, (10-0-2) energies were high in the stadium amongst Duquesne fans as it felt like this could potentially be the game to turn the tides.
Yeah, about that. After last night it appears the keys to the city are remaining in Oakland, as a thorough 5-2 dismantling of the ranked Dukes gives Pitt both bragging rights and their third-ranked win on the season. Pitt was dominating possession early, with the ball spending most of the time in Duquesne’s half as Pitt searched for space in the final third before being cleared upfield by a Duquesne defender, just for Pitt to reset and do it again. The deadlock was broken in the 24th minute when Pitt defender Henrique Gallina turned defense into offense, launching a beautifully weighted through ball to Lucas Rosa, who found the foot of Luis Sahmkow who slotted it home. The goal was Sahmkow’s third in three games, coming fresh off of him being named Pitt’s male athlete of the week.
The second goal quickly followed when Pitt turned a bad pass in the middle third into immediate offense, as senior midfielder Valentin Noel fed a ball to sophomore midfielder Guilherme Feitosa, only to receive it right back as Feitosa pulled off a beautiful backheel pass at full sprint, leaving the Duquesne keeper out of position and allowing enough space for Noel to place the second goal in the bottom left corner.
A third goal was added by Michael Sullivan after the half, but Pitt’s slow transition back to their side of the field following the post-goal celebration allowed Duquesne to take advantage of a disorganized backline, scoring their first only seconds after kick-off. The next ten minutes that followed were the only time that Duquesne felt in the game, playing with a sense of urgency that the Pitt team seemed to be lacking between the 50th and 65th minutes. Duquesne would score another on a misplaced header by a Pitt defender off a set piece, at which point the Duquesne crowd was fired up with the potential for a remarkable comeback.
It was the comeback that wouldn’t be, as in the 78th minute as Pitt scored the decisive 4th goal, albeit a controversial one. With the side officials flag up for offsides, Duquesne’s backline committed the cardinal sin of not playing to the whistle, and when offsides was not given and captain Jackson Walti put the fourth past the Dukes their sideline was livid, tearing into the referees, but because the offsides player at no point impacted the play, there was no reason to make the call. From that point on it was all Panthers, with one more goal at the tail end of the contest sending the Dukes back to the bluff with a 5-2 loss.
Pitt’s next contest is at Duke on Friday night at 8, with a win likely to cement a spot back in the top-25 rankings.