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FINAL: Pitt 3, Akron 0 (Second Round of NCAA Tournament)

Photo courtesy Pitt Athletics
NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament Second Round

FINAL: Pitt  3, Akron 0

MatchStats

Match Summary

For the third straight year, the Pitt Men’s Soccer team (10-4-5, 3-2-3 ACC) earned a spot in the Sweet 16 as the Panthers collected a 3-0 road victory over the No. 16 Akron Zips on Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The win marked Pitt’s first at Akron since the 1965 season.

With the win, Pitt has advanced to take on the winner of No.1 Kentucky-South Florida.

Look for a complete match report to follow soon here on Pittsburgh Soccer Now. 

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Preview

When Jay Vidovich came to the University of Pittsburgh with an ambitous task of building the men’s soccer program into an annual national contender, the closest college soccer program looming as the most consistent national contender was the University of Akron.

In fact, in the early part of Vidovich’s tenure at Pitt, he brought on a few former Akron players to close out there careers in Pittsburgh, who helped Vidovich establish and build a winning culture. Among those were Bryce Creegan, Shane Wiedt and Robby Dambrot.

The Zips program has been a constant force in Division I Men’s Soccer, as they’ve reached the College Cup six times, finished as runner-up twice and won the entire thing in 2010.

Creegan, Wiedt and Dambrot were there during parts of the Zips’ run of three College Cups in four years, under the direction of Head Coach Jared Embick.

Fast forward to 2022, and Dambrot and Wiedt are playing in the pros (in USL Championship) and Creegan, after a few years as a volunteer assistant under Vidovich, has moved on where he’s a full-time assistant at San Diego State University. And as we’ve arrived to mid-November, both Akron and Pitt men’s programs, which have played 31 previous times in their rivalry, will meet for the first time with very high stakes in the postseason.

Pitt’s rise to prominence has conincided with a trip to the Sweet 16 in each of the past two seasons, but Akron stands in their way this time around.

The winner of Sunday’s match will play the winner of No. 1 Kentucky vs. South Florida which will kick off at 6:00 pm Sunday. If Kentucky wins, the match will be played in Lexington but if South Florida wins, the winner of Akron/Pitt would host the Sweet 16 matchup.

The Zips earned the very last of the Men’s tournament seeds, with the No. 16 overall spot, allowing them to earn a bye in the first round, while Pitt had to take the harder route, as they were unseeded in their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance.  In the first round, on Thursday, the Panthers beat another strong program from Northeast Ohio, Cleveland State, 2-1, at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

Pitt wins, now braces for NCAA 2nd Round showdown at Akron

It’s very likely that Akron got the nod from the NCAA tournament seeding committee due to their wild road draw against Pitt in September.  Who knows?  If Pitt won that match, they could have been the team with the first round bye.

Duel to the Draw: Pitt, Akron back-and-forth affair ends 3-3

How wild was that first match?

No. 10 Pitt hosted No. 14 Akron in their third top 25 match at home this season. The match didn’t disappoint for spectators, as Pitt came back to take the lead, 3-2 before Akron tied it, making it the first tie, 3-3, for Pitt this season.

The Panthers outshot the Zips 18-9 and missed chances towards the end that would’ve won the match.

Vidovich said that game against Akron turned out to be a great test for his team and a back-and-forth fixture that anyone could’ve taken.

“Credit to Akron,” Vidovich said after that match.

“They came out, they pressed like crazy, they put balls in the channel against us, they got a counter attack there and they manufactured some goals. Proud of the guys. Not many teams can fight back from a 2-0 deficit and take the lead. Once again we gave up a sloppy goal. We had several chances to win the game, but our quality wasn’t in front of the goal. It wasn’t what we needed it to be.”

Following Thursday night’s win, Pitt’s Bertin Jacquesson, who scored both goals for the Panthers, said the he expects a much, much tighter match this time around against the Zips.

Jacquesson’s prediction may be especially true for a number of reasons.

FIrst of all, Akron’s going to be missing its two leading scorers as Jason Shokalook (9 goals, 6 assists) and Dyson Clapier (7, 7) — picked up red cards in the MAC final against Western Michigan, and won’t be available.

Add to that, the weather conditions are expected to be flat out freezing, with temps not expected to go over 27 degrees with a winds up to 15 miles per hour.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to play another match,” Vidovich said after Thursday’s win.

“Akron’s an opponent that we know, from playing them earlier this year.  A lot’s changed since then, for us as well as for them. I think it will be a really good game. We’re two teams that like to play, so as long as the weather holds up, we should


Pitt Game Notes 

THE SERIES – AKRON

  • This meeting marks the 31st of all-time between the two teams with Akron holding the 19-8-3 advantage over Pitt.
  • The two teams met earlier this season in Pittsburgh as they drew 3-3. Akron netted the first two goals of the match just 18 minutes in but Pitt came right back with three straight to regain the lead. The Zips tied the match in the 53rd minute and the two teams played to a draw.
  • Pitt’s last win in the series came in 2019 at home as they collected a 1-0 victory.
  • The Zips own a 11-2 edge in games played in Akron in the all-time series.

SCOUTING THE ZIPS

  • The Zips enter Sunday’s match with a 11-3-5 overall record on the year as they have one of the best offenses in the nation, ranking third in the NCAA in total goals (48).
  • The Zips are led offensively by Jason Shokalook who has netted nine goals, six assists and 24 points while Dyson Clapier has seven goals, a team-high seven assists and 21 points on 38 shots.
  • Ryan Kingsford and Ashton Kamdem each have five assists on the year as the Zips have notched 57 assists overall which ranks second in the NCAA.
  • In goal, Mitch Budler has made all 19 starts and owns a 11-3-5 record to go along with a 1.05 goals against average, .706 save percentage and seven clean sheets.

PANTHERS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT

  • This marks the fourth straight season and fourth time overall the Panthers have earn a bid in the NCAA Tournament.
  • The Panthers have now won at least one tournament game in all four seasons they have earned a bid.
  • Pitt currently owns a 7-2-1 record in NCAA Tournament games.
  • The Panthers are in search of their third straight trip to the Sweet 16 on Sunday.

Date                 Opponent         Result
11/21/20          Lehigh              W, 2-0
11/24/20          at Georgetown  L, 5-0
5/2/21              Monmouth       W, 6-1
5/6/21              UCF                  W, 4-0
5/10/21            Washington      W, 3-0
5/14/21            Indiana             L, 1-0
11/21/21          No. Illinois        W, 5-2
11/27/21          Hofstra             W, 4-0
12/4/21            at Notre Dame  T, 1-1
11/17/22          Cleveland St.     W, 2-1

SCORING POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • The Panthers have scored 36 goals, 43 assists and 115 points so far this season.
  • The 43 assists are the third most in a single season in program history while the 115 points are tied for fifth most in a single season.
  • Overall, the Panthers have six players who have recorded at least nine points on the year.
    • Junior Filip Mirkovic is leading the squad with 18 points while Bertin Jacquesson and Valentin Noelare close behind with 17 each.

LET ME ASSIST YOU

  • A major strength of the Panthers over the past couple seasons has been the way they distribute the ball.
  • So far this season, Pitt has 43 assists on 36 goals. The 43 total assists is currently 15th in the NCAA while their 2.39 assists per game is 14th in the NCAA.
  • Filip Mirkovic currently leads the ACC and ranks 4th in the NCAA in total assists (12) while also leading the ACC and ranking 3rd in the NCAA in assists per game (0.75).
  • With 12 assists on the year, Mirkovic has set a new school record for assists in a single season. His 19 career assists ranks 4th in program history.
  • Pitt has a total of 10 players who have at least two helpers on the year.
  • Last season, Pitt led the NCAA in assists (63) and assists per game (3.15), both of which marked program records.
  • Over the last three seasons, Pitt leads the NCAA in total assists with 150 helpers.

TOTAL ASSISTS (Last 3 seasons)

  1. Pitt                   150
  2. Wake Forest     139
  3. Campbell          135
  4. Washington      124
  5. Clemson           116

 

 

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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