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Pitt turns up a dominant performance in extra time vs NC State to win 4-1 in ACC Tournament

Photo courtesy Pitt Athletics

PITTSBURGH — No. 6 Pitt played a close game with No. 11 NC State in the First Round of the ACC Tournament for the first 90 minutes. They played a brilliant performance in overtime, scoring three goals, en route to a 4-1 victory at Ambrose Urbanic Field Wednesday night.

The Panthers’ (8-3-5) victory over the Wolfpack (6-7-4) is their second this season with the 3-0 win in September, also at home. Since joining the ACC, the Panthers are 5-1-1 at home against the Wolfpack. They have also won their last four matches against the Wolfpack and the Panthers are unbeaten in the series since 2016, in head coach Jay Vidovich’s first season.

Vidovich thought his team played great to start the game, but they “took their foot off the gas” and allowed the Wolfpack to tie the game and force it into overtime. With the new overtime rules starting this regular season that end the match at the end of 90 minutes instead of going into overtime, Pitt drew five matches, with four of those at home.

“When we go into overtime, something we’ve said all year, people will hang in for the full 90 [minutes] against us,” Vidovich said. “Tonight, to be able to settle in overtime and that was a good feeling. I got to ship their resilience, the fact that they came on in, they stood strong and got those goals when it mattered. So, great performance.”

Not much occurred in the first 10 minutes, other than NC State first-year midfielder Calem Tommy taking out Pitt graduate forward Josh Luchini with a tough challenge that caused him to flip. Tommy received a yellow card for the foul.

Pitt then took the lead in the 14th minute. Junior midfielder Filip Mirkovic found a streaking graduate midfielder in Lucas Rosa with a great cross. The NC State goalkeeper, sophomore Lucas Hatsios, did not come out for a ball he had a chance to get to.

This allowed Rosa to take control and put in a great ball that found sophomore Michael Sullivan, who blasted his shot into the back of the net for the lead.

The Panthers continued their attack in the 14th minute, as junior forward Bertin Jacquesson fired a powerful shot with his left foot, that force Hatsios to punch it out.

NC State leveled the match off a corner in the 26th minute. Mirkovic headed out the corner to NC State sophomore forward Luke Hille. Hille got the ball, turned and shot from outside the box. His shot passed through first-year defender Jackson Gillman’s legs and into the bottom right hand corner.

The Panthers final chance of the first half came in the 39th minute. Rosa put in a great cross to senior midfielder Valentin Noel, who put his left foot on the ball, but it hit the crossbar instead of the back of the net.

The second half didn’t see many chances for either team at all. Both teams looked content to play more possession-based, leading to less audacious chances and more safe play.

Rosa put in a great cross in the 49th minute that Noel missed initially. He eventually got to it and shot, but it deflected out for a corner.

Panthers graduate midfielder Rodrigo Almeida took a shot on off a nice layoff from Rosa in the 61st minute. Wolfpack senior defender Pablo Pedregosa blocked it and his deflection appeared to hit the right hand of sophomore defender Jarvis Cleal. Panthers ran to the referee for a hand ball decision, but the referee ignored them and let the play go on.

Almeida had another chance in the 69th minute to score after some great buildup play. Instead of shooting it after Jacquesson short passed it to him, he put a poor pass to Mirkovic who didn’t get to it as the ball went out of bounds.

Pitt graduate midfielder Jackson Walti created a chance for Jacquesson in the 74th minute, but his shot went well wide for a goal kick.

The match headed into overtime after neither team found the back of the net at the 90 minute mark.

The Panthers attacked quickly, as Walti’s shot from distance forced Hatsios to make a great save by pushing the shot out for a corner.

Mirkovic took the corner and found Sullivan on the back post, who headed it for the go-ahead goal in the 92nd minute.

Sullivan only scored one goal prior to this against Duquesne in October and scored two in the victory over NC State. Sullivan said that the gameplan for the Panther was to attack the front post on corners to get a chance to score.

“I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t see the ball go into the net,” Sullivan said. “I threw my head. Fil[ip Mirkovic] put in a beautiful ball. [Vidovich] told him earlier, “Put the ball into the front post. You can beat the guy.” He put the ball there, I threw my head at it. It went in. I had no idea the ball went in.”

Pitt continued the momentum the rest of the way in overtime. They almost scored again at the end of the first period. Graduate midfielder Ideal Shefqeti chipped a pass in the air to graduate forward Josh Luchini in the 100th minute with 10 seconds left. Luchini got the ball past a diving Hastios, who failed to punch it away, but he failed to convert as his shot ended up wide for a goal kick.

Wolfpack senior defender Kendall Edwards took care of a Pitt lob pass and gave it back to Hastios. Hastios failed to see a running Noel, who took the ball off him on a poor pass back to Edwards. Hastios dove, but Noel cooly put the ball in front of him and then scored to make it 3-1 in the 106th minute, sealing the victory.

The goal for Noel is the 31st of his career as a Panther. That ties him for second most all-time in program history with former teammate Edward Kizza, who played from 2017-19.

Walti finished off the game with a goal of his own in the 110th minute. First-year defender Noah Hall moved down the right hand side, the cut inwards and layed off a pass for Walti. Walti shot from distance, with a low shot that fell into the right hand corner past Hastios for Pitt’s fourth goal of the game.

Mirkovic’s two assists tonight put him on top of the program single season assist record with 12 in 2022.

“It feels great,” Mirkovic said. “I’m not really worried about records. I’m worried about how the team’s doing, how we’re winning. That’s the key. Records come with it. Just doing my job, playing my part in the team in the best way I can. So it feels nice. Tonight was nice.”

Pitt takes on No. 3 Virginia on Sunday at 4 p.m. on the road and they will be looking for revenge after they suffered a home loss to Virginia in September.

 

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