FINAL: UNC 2, Pitt 1
It was close until the final horn, but Carolina comes away with the big 2-1 victory over Pitt! pic.twitter.com/8owp0QbvX1
— UNC Men's Soccer (@UNCmenssoccer) October 5, 2019
Pitt was able to net something from a late push, but it was too little, too late as North Carolina were the better side when they had to be, punishing Panthers mistakes en route to a 2-1 victory.
Jack Skahan and Santiago Herrera both scored for the Tar Heels who leave Pittsburgh with an important conference win, while the Panthers failed to capitalize on an opportunity to beat a nationally ranked conference foe, and hold winning conference record.
Nyk Sessock cut the North Carolina lead in the late stages with a goal in the 87th minute.
It was an evenly played, tight match that turned in the dying seconds of the first half, when Pitt’s Matt Bailey was caught for a foul on the edge of the box.
With the clock ticking down under five seconds, UNC’s Skahan placed the ball down, and sent his free kick into the upper right corner of goal past Pitt goalkeeper Arie Ammann.
“It was a foul. Five seconds left on the clock. We did well enough that we should walk into the locker room with 0-0,” Pitt’s head coach Jay Vidovic said. “A really hard foul to concede. That was their first good look. That’s why they’re a top team though. They can punish you.”
Vidovich elaborated: “Matt Bailey did a great job, it was just a defensive mistake, you’re in a dangerous area on the pitch and he wanted to win the ball and close out the half for us and he lunged for it and he made a mistake.”
In the second half, Pitt did a decent job of making some adjustments to start to generate chances and deeper advances into the final third.
We did a tremendous job in responding to the challenge,” Vidovich said. “We started to find it. We wanted to hold the ball more. We tried getting in (longer balls) on them earlier (in the first half), but in the second half, we wanted to try to make that extra pass,and we had our chances.”
Early second half subs Alexander Dexter and Josh Hesson sparked those Pitt’s chances.
Hesson nearly beat UNC’s keeper Alec Smir to a through ball behind the back line, but Smir got to it first in the 57th minute. Moments later, Dexter chipped a ball from left edge to far right post for Hesson, who made a good run to get behind his man marking him,, but couldn’t get a good header attempt on it.
Another missed opportunity to find the equalizer came when Valentin Noel just missed on a free kick chance in the 64th minute.
UNC stepped up its pressure on Pitt’s midfield and back line — and forced Pitt into numerous giveaways — including a sequence when the Panthers had trouble navigating the ball out of the back. Pitt’s goalkeeper Arie Ammann and defender Arturo Ordonez were caught under pressure, ultimately giving away a ball on Ammann’s second pass attempt to give UNC possession deep in its final third.
The Tar Heels took a quick throw in after a Panther giveaway in the 71st minute — as Martin Salas sent a long diagonal ball into the center of the box for Santiago Herrera. Somehow, Herrera got to the ball, even as he was between two Pitt defenders, heading it past Ammann for the 2-0 lead.
“There were many mistakes,” Vidovich said of that sequence and the ensuing build-up and goal. “How the ball ended in a throw-in. How we didn’t mark up. We were telling the keeper to go for the ball, and it wasn’t his ball. So many mistakes there. We’re still making too many mistakes.
Pitt pushed into the late moments, and finally came through with a goal when Nyk Sessock’s one-time shot converted from a ball that was deflected from initial shot from Josh Hesson.
“It would have been better if we kept it at 1-0. We felt pretty comfortable in the last 10 minutes we could draw one, that we’d continue to wear them down,” Vidovich on his team’s late efforts. “It worked, but we were already down two goals, and it was too late.”
UNC edged out Pitt in total shots, 9-8, while they doubled up in corner opportunities, 4-2. The loss drops Pitt’s ACC record to 1-2-1, while Carolina improves to 3-1.
Vidovich, who’s won a National Championship and has led Wake Forest’s men’s program to the top of the ACC, provided the simple answer to the difference between his team, and his nationally ranked opponents on this early October night.
“The last five seconds of first half,” Vidovich said. And lost of concentration on the second goal. When you make mistakes, the good teams will make you pay.”
MATCHDAY UPDATES HERE:
9:02 – FINAL | UNC wins 2-1
8:57 – 87′ | GOAL – PITT – 2-1
8:48 – 79′ | UNC’s high press continuing to give Pitt fits.
8:40 – 71′ | GOAL – UNC -Santiago Herrera
8:36 – 69′ | Good work by Hesson with two UNC defenders to set up a corner. The corner though — near post and nobody there for Pitt. 69′ 1-0 UNC.
8:33 – 66′ | Noel, who’s real shifty on the ball, takes another hard knock to the ground to draw a foul.
8:30 – 64′ | Pitt with some good work on left edge to keep possession and draw free kick…
8:23 -58’| through ball for Hesson — and there’s a collision as UNC’s GK Smir gets to it first. Both players down, but get up now. Nice idea. Pitt finally working through channels better with some short passing.
7:22 – 18′ | Shot Braden Kline! He gets a good look from just outside the box but it goes high.
7:17 – 13′ | Long vertical ball over the top from Valentine Noel nearly connects with Veljko Petrovic, but UNC’s keeper, Alec Smir takes it away — with one hand!
Pitt’s using a 4-2-3-1, with Edward Kizza at the top of the attack. The back four have been well positioned, and already intercepted all of UNC’s pass attempts into the box.
7′ | Pitt with first decent advance – working it up right side. Nice ball forward from Braden Kline for Edward Kizza, but UNC keeper Alec Smir is there to deny shot opportunity.
7:06 – we’ve kicked off!
Here’s Pitt’s starting XI:
— John Krysinsky (@PghSoccerScribe) October 4, 2019
Follow live updates from John Krysinsky on Twitter @pghsoccerscribe
Friday, Oct. 4 | 7 p.m.
Ambrose Urbanic Field in the Petersen Sports Complex
LAST TIME OUT
· The Panthers played their first of a four-game homestand against Denver on Sept. 30.
· Denver struck first, finding the back of the net in the 41st minute.
· The Panthers responded with two goals within four minutes of each other to go ahead 2-1 to start the second half.
· Freshman Valentin Noel scored the first goal off a pass from junior Sito Sena. Sena scored the second goal after receiving help from junior Edward Kizza and sophomore Nyk Sessock.
· Kizza scored the game winning goal in the 107th minute. It was Kizza’s fifth goal of the season, ending a four-game scoreless streak.
· Senior Arie Ammann had another solid performance in goal, ending the night with a 0.714 save percentage.
THE SERIES – NORTH CAROLINA
· North Carolina leads the all-time series, 6-0.
· The teams’ last meeting came in 2018, with the Tar Heels securing a 2-1 win in double overtime in North Carolina.
· The Panthers have never defeated the Tar Heels, despite head coach Jay Vidovich having a 9-12-6 career record against North Carolina.
SCOUTING THE TAR HEELS
· North Carolina heads to Pittsburgh with five wins under its belt, including two over ranked opponents.
· In their last time out, the Tar Heels came away with a 2-0 win over UNCW. Senior midfielder Mauricio Pineda and senior forward Jelani Pieters both scored in the win.
· Ninth year head coach Carlos Somoana, who owns a 121-30-22 career record, leads North Carolina. Somoana has spent his entire career as a head coach with the Tar Heels.
· Junior forward Alex Rose and Pieters lead the team with 12 points this season. Rose leads the team with five goals and has also racked up two assists. Pieters has four goals and is tied for first with a team high four assists.
· UNC concluded the 2018 season 14-4-1 overall and 6-1-0 in conference play, losing to Louisville 1-0 in the ACC Championship. The Tar Heels then lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to James Madison, 2-1.
KIZZA COMMANDING ATTENTION
· Junior Edward Kizza closed out his 2018 campaign tied for third in program history for single-season goals (15) while ranking fifth in points (30).
· Kizza ranked fifth in goals nationally, ninth in shot accuracy (.622) and 11th in points per game (1.67), while ranking first in each category among ACC players.
· The historic season led Kizza to First Team All-ACC honors, Second Team All-Region recognition and a spot on the All-ACC Academic Team.
· Through nine games, Kizza leads the team in points (12), goals (5) and shots (28).
· The Kampala, Uganda, native picked up right where he left off to start the 2019 season, recording a brace against No. 2 Indiana in the squad’s season-opener Friday, Aug. 30. In the match, Kizza recorded the fastest consecutive goals in program history after scoring at the 35:24 and 35:31 mark, with the seven-second difference besting the old record of 34 seconds set by Michael Tuohy and John Cordier in 2013. Kizza scored the game winning goal on Sept. 30 versus Denver.
PANTHERS EARN ACADEMIC HONOR
· For the fourth consecutive year, the men’s soccer team has earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award.
· Teams had to have posted a team GPA of 3.0 or higher for the 2018-19 academic year.
· The award is the seventh overall for Pitt.
· The Panthers freshmen class has made an immediate impact through the first eight games of the 2019 season.
· Pitt’s starting lineup usually consists of three freshmen in Valentin Noel, Arturo Ordonez and Veljko Petkovic, while Josh Hesson has made five starts thus far.
· Petkovic ranks third on the team with eight points after netting three goals and two assists. He’s appeared in all eight games and has made four starts.
· Pitt’s match up versus North Carolina is the Panthers’ second game of a four-game homestand.
· Pitt takes on Howard Monday, Oct. 7 and Virginia Tech Friday, Oct. 11.