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In its ‘Backyard’ WVU finds redemption in 2-1 win vs Pitt

Josh DiMatteo scored WVU's first goal in 2-1 win vs Pitt in 49th edition of Backyard Brawl - Photo WVU Men's soccer

In its ‘Backyard’ WVU finds redemption in 2-1 win vs Pitt

From WVU / Pitt reports – Charles Healy / Matt Keenan

It’s been quite a turnaround season for the West Virginia men’s soccer team — as they’ve run through conference play in Mid-American Conference (MAC) without a loss, and on Tuesday they beat Backyard Brawl rivals Pitt, 2-1, to extend its win streak to three matches on Tuesday night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

It was sweet redemption for the Mountaineers, who lost 7-0 in Pittsburgh last September.

“I thought we were the better team, especially in the second half,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “I thought we were really good on the night, and we’re starting to hit our stride a little bit. We told our guys at halftime that if we don’t concede, we win the game. We got the second goal, and now it is really hard for Pitt, and they’ll have to stretch themselves. I was disappointed we gave away the goal, but I was really proud of the way we responded after conceding it. We put more pressure on them and created more chances. We really shut it down, and that’s hopefully the sign of a championship team. We get to play for a championship Friday night.”

WVU’s goals came from freshman midfielder and former Chartiers Valley standout Josh DiMatteo, in the 16th minute, and senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc, in the 49th.

Pitt (now 7-9 overall, 2-5 in ACC) was playing without a few key players battling back from injuries in the non-conference match, couldn’t win its second straight Backyard Brawl match-up.

“Right now we’re missing [Edward] Kizza, and we’re missing Chandler [Vaughn], and we’re missing certain players that are working to come back,” said head coach Jay Vidovich. “We just weren’t able to get the result or the performance we wanted.”

West Virginia took a 1-0 lead at 15:40. From near midfield, Piatczyc sent the ball up to sophomore forward Tsubasa Takada along the sideline, 20 yards out. Takada then centered the ball to DiMatteo, who was waiting at the top of the box and beat the keeper to the left.

The goal was the third of the season for the Pittsburgh native and former Beadling player.

The Mountaineers extended their lead to 2-0 early in the second half, at 48:41, thanks to beautifully-placed free kick by Piatczyc. From 25 yards out, Piatczyc beat a diving keeper into the top-right corner.

Pitt cut into WVU’s lead with a goal at 49:11 by Alexander Dexter, but the visiting side could not get any closer. It was the Panthers’ lone shot on goal in the contest.

WVU out-shot Pitt, 15-4, and held a 5-1 advantage in shots on goal. UP had 23 fouls to WVU’s 11, and the Panthers had a 4-3 edge in corner kicks.

Piatczyc led the team with five shots, while DiMatteo had two shots, both on goal.

Piatczyc’s two game-winning points gives him 19 in his career, tied for sixth-most in program history. Piatczyc also earned an assist on DiMatteo’s goal, his 31st career assist to extend his school-record mark.

The lone shot in the match prior to DiMatteo’s goal came in the third minute, on a header wide by Pitt. While both teams had offensive pressure, each squad was called for two offsides in the opening 15 minutes.

Following WVU’s goal, Pitt sent a shot wide in the 24th minute for its only other shot in the opening 45 minutes. Junior defender Ryan Kellogg had an opportunity saved in the 27th minute, and Piatczyc had one blocked that resulted in a corner kick in the 40th.

The Mountaineers held a 3-2 edge in shots in the opening half before they recorded an 11-3 advantage after halftime.

Junior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino hit the post in the 47th minute, two minutes before Piatczyc’s goal off a free kick. Thirty seconds later, Pitt cut the WVU lead in half. However, the Mountaineer defense held the Panthers to two shots, both wide, in the remaining 40 minutes of regulation.

Senior midfielder Jorge Quintanilla had a shot saved in the 54th minute, which came just before Piatczyc sent a chance wide. DiMatteo nearly made it 3-1 in the 81st minute, but UP’s Johan Penaranda was there for his third and final save of the match.

The Mountaineers (11-5-0) improved to 34-10-5 all-time against the Panthers (7-9) and remain undefeated in the series at home since 1997.

WVU has won nine of its last 11 matches and is unbeaten in 17 of its last 21 contests in Morgantown. With tonight’s victory, West Virginia also improved to 11-0 this year and 18-0 in the last three seasons when scoring two or more goals.

Dexter led Pitt with two shots, followed by seniors Tom Moxham and Shane Wiedt and sophomore Marcony Pimentel with one shot apiece.

In goal,Pitt’s freshman keeper Johan Penaranda collected three saves while surrendering two goals in 90 minutes of action.

Pitt will now return home for its final game of the season against ACC rival Notre Dame on Saturday, while WVU takes on conference foes Bowling Green on Friday. Both matches are Senior Nights for the respective programs.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets including Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, and more. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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