PITTSBURGH — No. 25 Pitt battled throughout the 90 minutes against a tough side in No. 23 Clemson at Ambrose Urbanic Field Friday night. Both teams missed many chances to win the game and it ended in a stalemate, 1-1.
The Panthers (5-3-2) end their two game losing streak with the draw against the Tigers (8-2-1), but are now four games without a win for the first time since the ending to the 2017 season.
Despite the draw, Vidovich thought his team played much better than the previous games. He said that they maintained control throughout and they created chances that should’ve won the game.
“It was good. It was a good start from the whistle it was competitive,” Vidovich said. “It was tight defensively, guys were working hard and the game plan, they stuck with it. Think we had three, four better than half chances in the first half and then their only looks came off the two corner kicks. Second half, six minutes we draw blood and I thought we had a great run of the game. There was one, two spells where they had it, but otherwise I thought we were in control of the game.”
Pitt senior goalkeeper Joe van der Sar also thought the team played far better against Clemson. Coming into this match, Pitt game up eight goals in the previous three games, a stark contrast to only allowing three goals in the first five matches of the season.
“I think as a team we worked very hard this past week to sort out some things that we kind of noticed in the past games,” Van der Sar said. “It was just too many goals that we were giving up in unnecessary situations and we kind of went back to what we did well in the first couple games where we had a couple shut outs. We just really worked hard tactically and sorted it out and fought for each other today.”
The first real opportunity in the game came in the 12th minute when Pitt sophomore midfielder Michael Sullivan found himself with space and passed it to junior midfielder Filip Mirkovic. Mirkovic then laid it off for graduate midfielder Rodrigo Almeida, whose shot in the box went wide left.
Clemson almost took the lead two minutes later as senior forward Mohamed Seye created separation from his defender, but his shot went just left of the goal.
The Panthers used some good passes for another chance in the 17th minute. Graduate midfielder Jackson Walti passed it to junior forward Bertin Jacquesson who then put in a great pass in the box. Almeida got on the end of the pass and gave it to senior midfielder Valentin Noel, who skied his shot over the goal to keep the match scoreless.
On a corner, the Tigers almost broke out the scoring two minutes later. Redshirt first-year defender Adam Lundegard rose up and headed it down to right corner of the goal. It would’ve went in, if not for Panthers graduate midfielder Ideal Shefqeti knocking it off the line. Seye then took a shot on, but it went out for a goal kick.
The chances for either team slowed down for most of the half as both were unable to create good rhythm offensively to actually get a good shot on goal.
Jacquesson delivered a free kick in the 28th minute from just outside the box right at first-year goalkeeper Joseph Andema, who punched it out. Jacquesson received that punch out and took a weak shot on goal that Andema easily saved.
Clemson almost scored as first-year forward Nathan Richmond shot close to goal, but Pitt senior goalkeeper Joe van der Sar saved it for a corner.
The Tigers then scored on that corner and Lundegard jumped over his defender and put a beautiful headed shot in the top right corner with just 18 seconds left in the half.
Pitt responded early in the second half. Mirkovic, with time and space, put in a brilliant ball to an unmarked Noel. Noel volleyed it immediately to put it in the bottom left corner with his right foot to tie the match at one goal each.
Noel’s goal put him for 69 career points, tying himself with former teammate and current Pittsburgh Riverhounds forward Edward Kizza for third all-time in Pitt history. The goal is also the 29th of his career, putting him in fourth all time for career goals at Pitt.
Richmond then looked to put the Tigers ahead in the 58th minute. His delivered a powerful shot to the top left corner, but Van Der Sar stood strong and made a solid save.
The next couple of chances for the Panthers occurred just after the 70th minute. Walti ran right through the Tigers defense and took a shot with his left foot. Clemson redshirt junior defender Enrique Montana III blocked that shot and it fell to Noel, who then volleyed it over the cross bar.
On the ensuing goal kick, Clemson junior defender Hamady Drop fell over the ball, gifting it to Pitt substitute sophomore forward Luis Sahmkow in the box. Sahmkow put a pass to Sullivan, who put the ball wide despite the goal open with Andema not in position.
The Tigers last real chance in the match came in the 79th minute. Junior midfielder Brandon Parrish crossed a ball across the face of goal, but no one got to it.
Sullivan created a great opportunity two minutes later, when he dribbled right past his defender and moved on goal. He shot to the lower left corner of the goal, but Andema made an incredible save with his right hand to keep the game scoreless.
Pitt got a final chance with less than 15 seconds remaining with a free kick outside the box. A foul on Rosa created the free kick, but Noel stayed on the ground with an injury.
The referee chose not to stop the clock, even with the injury. Pitt tried to get everyone in position and the clock stopped as the referee put both his hands up, indicating he wanted the clock stopped.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the referee, apparently, never wanted the clock to stop and called the game final. The Panthers did not take the free kick, but the players and coaching staff let the referee their opinion on the controversial decision.
Noel said that he got fouled by the centreback and then had trouble understanding the ref due to his Romanian accent. Overall, he said that he was confused by the whole situation and that Pitt should’ve been able to take the free kick.
“He was just saying, “If you stay down, I won’t stop the clock,” Noel said. “My body was hurting and I was like, “Okay let’s play, there’s 20 seconds left.” Then they kicked the ball, so when they kicked the ball, the ref should’ve stopped the clock and also give the yellow. And he did not and they were all in front of the goal and he said he never stopped the clock and that they only did so on the big screen. Yeah a lot of confusion.”
Pitt looks to use the momentum from this match and earn a victory over No. 10 Denver at home next Monday, Oct. 10.