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FINAL: Pittsburgh 2, Kentucky 1 (NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament – 3rd Round)

Photo courtesy Pitt Athletics
NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament – Third Round 

FINAL: Pitt 2, Kentucky 1

Match Stats

NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament Bracket

PSN Coverage:  Dan Angell (reporting)

MATCH SUMMARY

The Pitt Panthers returned to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament for the third straight season in dramatic fashion, by overcoming a second half deficit, then playing with a man down, to defeat the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats, 2-1, in Lexington, KY on Sunday night.

Senior midfielder Valentin Noel’s half volley from close range following a corner kick in the 55th minute, then Bertin Jacquesson’s wonder strike in the 87th minute lifted the Panthers to the upset victory.

The Panthers will now host Portland in the 4th Round (Elite Eight) on either Friday or Saturday, at Ambrose Urbanic FIeld.

Look for a more detailed recap to follow on Pittsburgh Soccer Now from Lexington, KY. 

FULL TIME: PITTSBURGH 2, KENTUCKY 1: The Panthers will advance to play Portland with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

90′ — Desperation time for the Wildcats. Pitt holding its shape as we hit 30 seconds to play.

87′ — GOAL, PITTSBURGH: Bertin Jaquesson decides to have a hit from the top of the box and finds only mesh, beating Mols for the go-ahead goal. Despite being down to 10, Pitt has pulled ahead of No. 1 Kentucky. Panthers 2, Wildcats 1.

86′ — Wildcats go down in the box, but the ref isn’t interested and waves play on.

85′ — Jaquesson fouled hard, but the ref isn’t going to award a card here. It’s just a free kick to Pitt.

84′ — Wildcats send the corner onto the road behind the pitch. Panthers still in good shape.

83′ — Pitt still holding on, as the defense continues to frustrate Kentucky’s attackers. The Panthers force a corner on the Wildcat attack and have to hang on again.

78′ — RED CARD, PITTSBURGH: Henrique Gallina is sent off with a red card for a foul on Martin Soereide, which looks to be an incredibly harsh decision. I’m not even sure it was the correct decision, as it looked like Gallina was the player who was fouled on my first glance. I’d need to see a replay to know, but it appears Pitt is up against it now.

76′ — Kentucky wins its first corner of the match. Pitt is equal to the task and nothing comes of it. The Wildcats have produced just two shots on goal, and Pitt’s defense deserves a good chunk of credit for that.

72′ — Kentucky’s defense sends a Pitt cross into touch, and the Panthers get their fourth corner of the match. This only leads to a Pitt throw.

69′ — Jacquesson had another solid look at the net, but Mols does enough to force him to alter his shot and miss the net. At the other end, Gutmann skies one and the score remains level.

67′ — Jacquesson unleashes a laser on the ground that just whizzes by the right post. Mols had no shot at that one if it hadn’t gone wide; Pitt very nearly had the lead.

66′ — Jackson Gilman saves the game for Pitt for the time being by denying Bjorgolfsson a good look at the net. Panthers were dangerously close to conceding there.

64′ — Cross comes toward the net, but Jaquesson can’t get on the end of it. Pitt’s still the aggressor at this point.

56′ — That’s the first goal Kentucky has conceded in 397 minutes of action. The Wildcats hadn’t allowed one since South Carolina scored in the Sun Belt quarterfinals.

54′ — GOAL, PITTSBURGH: The Panthers do have the answer, as Valentin Noel bangs home the rebound off the first save from Mols. Pitt responds in a big way and is back on terms in Lexington. Panthers 1, Wildcats 1.

52′ — GOAL, KENTUCKY: And a cross lands in the wrong place and Casper Grening is able to tap it home on the feed from Nick Gutmann. One of Pitt’s assistants is shown a red card protesting the call, and it’s to no avail. Wildcats 1, Panthers 0.

50′ — Luis Sahmkow with the best chance of the match, but a Kentucky tackle deprives him of the shot. Pitt gets the first corner of the match but cannot do anything with it.

HALFTIME: Pitt 0, Kentucky 0

45′ — Lucas Rosa floats the last attack of the first half over the bar. Pitt will go the locker room level pegging.

43′ — Lucca Rodrigues closes down a Pitt attack coming from the left side with a blocked cross. The Panthers are keeping the pressure up, but no breakthrough yet.

40′ — These officials are letting both teams play. They’re favoring the defense, which appears to be good for Pitt based on the first 40 minutes of action.

38′ — That was the look Pitt wanted. Valentin Noel gets through for an excellent look at goal, but Mols comes out and keeps it from becoming a solid shot. Big save from the Wildcat keeper and it remains deadlocked.

36′ — The board is restored. Pitt still can’t break through to get a good look at goal, but neither can Kentucky.

33′ — That was almost the mistake Pitt couldn’t afford to make. Eythor Bjorgolfsson got some space deep in the box, and only a slip kept him from getting a good look at goal. The Panthers dodge a bullet there.

30′ — I think Pitt needs to get a goal before the whistle. With Kentucky struggling to adjust to the wind, the Wildcats aren’t likely to mount a real attack until they can get to the locker room. If the Panthers can take advantage, they can force Kentucky to adjust to more than the wind at the break.

27′ — The video board has gone dead in Lexington, and time is being kept in the press box only now.

23′ — Halfway through the first half, and it seems Pitt has adjusted better to the harsh winds. Kentucky seems determined to keep trying long runs down the side, and it isn’t working. The Wildcat faithful aren’t happy; one just yelled, “You keep doing that and there’s nobody there!”

21′ — Guilherme Feitosa comes up with the first real chance, but Mols is equal to it. Feitosa probably shot further away than he wanted, but the attack was a good idea.

20′ — Outside of one shot on goal from Casper Grening, it’s been a straight stalemate. Whether it’s the conditions or the defense, neither side has threatened to this point.

13′ — That’s what Pitt needs to do. Casper Mols’ first touch of the ball on a cross was on the shaky side, and the Panthers nearly had an opportunity to bang it home. Mols is just a freshman; Pitt needs to test him.

12′ — First real trip into the box for Kentucky. Pitt kept its shape well to turn aside the threat.

10′ — Zero shots on goal through the first 10. So far, Pitt has had slightly the better of the play, but not enough to really make any meaningful difference.

8′ — Bertin Jaquesson puts a ball in the box on the ground, and even though Kentucky handles it, he’s got the right idea. Keeping the ball on the ground is likely to be how someone’s going to set up a good attack.

5′ — So far, the wind is keeping both teams from getting on the end of their passes. Gusts up to 21 miles per hour tonight, which could make things tough on the keepers if either side can get an attack going.

1′ — It’s misting in Lexington, with temperatures at 44 degrees as we get rolling. It’s been raining all day through my journey here from Indianapolis, but the pitch appears in good shape.

Preview 

The Pitt Panthers are looking to advance to the Elite Eight for the third consecutive season, but they’re facing a huge challenge, as they’ll face top-seeded Kentucky on the road in Lexington for a marquee Sweet 16 round match-up.

Following its convincing 3-0 win in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, at Akron, it might be safe to say that Pitt has regained its footing as they continue push themselves back into the conversation as a serious contender to reach the College Cup.

Now they have to clear what may be the most difficult hurdle: taking on the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

This is the first-ever match between Pitt and Kentucky in men’s soccer.

We have a complete preview and hear from both sides of this match-up below.

The winner of this match will take on and host Portland, either Friday, December 2 or Saturday, December 3.

Recent PSN PItt Men’s Soccer Coverage  

Taking the Hard Road: Battle-tested Pitt now faces No. 1 Kentucky in Sweet 16

 

Pitt dominates Akron, 3-0, to return to the Sweet 16

Pitt’s Josh Luchini and Michael Sullivan show the strength of WPIAL Soccer

Pitt Game Notes   

THE SERIES – KENTUCKY

  • This meeting marks the first meeting of all-time between the two programs.
  • This meeting marks the third time the Panthers have faced the #1 team in the nation since 2019.
  • Pitt is 1-1-0 against the #1 team in the nation over the last three years as they earned a 2-0 road win over #1 Virginia in 2019.

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS

  • The Wildcats enter Sunday’s game as the lone undefeated team in the nation as they own a 15-0-5 record on the year. They earned the Sun Belt Conference title with a 2-0 win over James Madison.
  • Kentucky opened up their NCAA Tournament last weekend with a 4-0 second round home victory over South Florida. They had four different goal scorers on their four goals as they played a strong all around game.
  • As a team, Kentucky leads the NCAA in goal differential (+38) while ranking third in goals (52) and third in points (159).
  • The Wildcats are being led offensively by Nick Gutmann who leads the NCAA in assists (18) while posting a team-high 28 points. Casper Grening is tied for the team lead with 10 goals and 25 points while Eythor Bjorgolfsson has 10 goals and 22 points in 18 matches.
  • In goal, freshman Casper Mols was named Sun Belt Goalkeeper of the Year as he posted a great season while making 15 starts. He owns a 11-0-4 record with a 0.68 goals against average, .714 save percentage and nine clean sheets on the year.

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.
  • This marks the Panthers’ third straight trip to the Sweet 16.
  • Pitt currently owns a 8-2-1 record in NCAA Tournament games all-time.
  • The Panthers are in search of their third straight trip to the Elite Eight 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
11/20/22          at Akron           W, 3-0

SCORING POINTS IN BUNCHES

  • The Panthers have scored 39 goals, 45 assists and 123 points so far this season.
  • The 45 assists are the second most in a single season in program history while the 123 points are the third most in a single season in program history. The 39 goals are ninth all-time.
  • Overall, the Panthers have six players who have recorded at least nine points and four with 11+ points on the year.
  • Senior Valentin Noel leads the squad with 21 points while Filip Mirkovic and Bertin Jacquesson are tied for second on the squad with 18 points on the year.

SCORING FIRST A MUST FOR PITT

  • One of the keys to victory for the Panthers over the last four seasons has been scoring the first goal of the match.
  • Since 2019, Pitt owns a 41-1-3 overall record when they record the first goal of the match.
  • The Panthers are 9-0-1 this year when scoring the first goal while being just 1-4-3 when allowing the first goal of the match.
  • Pitt hasn’t lost a game when scoring the first goal since falling to #2 Indiana 3-2 in double overtime on August 30, 2019.

Season             Record             Win %
2022                 9-0-1                .950
2021                 11-0-2              .923
2020-21            14-0-0              1.000
2019                 8-1-0                .889

UP NEXT

  • With a win, the Panthers would advance to their third straight Elite Eight and would play the winner of Portland and Western Michigan at home next weekend. The game would be either Friday, Dec. 2 or Saturday, Dec. 3.

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