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Pitt Men's Soccer

Double Dose of Hoosier Pain: Pitt falls to Indiana once again in NCAA College Cup Semifinal

Photo courtesy Peyton Sickles

CARY, N.C. — Pitt faced off against Indiana in the College Cup semifinals Friday night at WakeMed Soccer Park, looking to get revenge from the loss in the 2020-21 edition.

Instead, Pitt fell behind two goals at halftime and couldn’t make a comeback, losing 2-0 and ending their season.

The Panthers (12-5-5) gave up two first half goals for the second time this season, with the other time against then ranked No. 11 Marshall. It is also the first time they allowed more than one goal since they defeated then ranked No. 25 Duquesne 5-2 on Oct. 17. The Hoosiers (14-4-6) stay unbeaten against the Panthers in the all-time series, 3-0, with the first win coming in 2019.

Panthers head coach Jay Vidovich noted that different defensive schemes from Indiana frustrated his team and put them out of rhythm offensively, making it difficult for them to make a comeback.

“I don’t think we found our form today,” Vidovich said. “The energy, the competitiveness that we needed to play, the timing, everything was just a bit off. The first goal hurt us, but the second goal killed us. It was a really tough hole for us to climb out of.”

Pitt gave up a penalty early in the 14th minute, after sophomore defender Mateo Maillefaud took down senior forward Herbert Endeley in the box.

Panthers senior goalkeeper Joe van der Sar made a great initial save on the penalty from Hoosiers redshirt senior forward Ryan Wittenbrink. Wittenbrink ran on to the save from Van der Sar that rebounded and put it in the back of the net to give the Hoosiers the lead.

Offensive struggles dominated the first half showing for Pitt. Graduate midfielder Jackson Walti ripped a shot in the 26th minute, but Pitt didn’t create much else in the first period.

Indiana doubled their lead with less than a minute remaining in the first half. Substitute sophomore forward Tommy Mihalic shot from an incredibly tight angle and managed to get it just under the left glove of Van der Sar.

The Panthers continued to struggle to threaten in the second half. They failed to push forward enough and didn’t create enough chances through the middle, resorting to crosses and passing the ball around near the box.

A good opportunity arose when junior forward Bertin Jacquesson ran through on goal, but Harms pushed it out for a corner in the 59th minute. The ensuing corner kick from junior midfielder Filip Mirkovic saw first-year defender Jackson Gillman head it at goal, but Harms saved it yet again, diving to his right to make the stop.

The best chance came in the 75th minute. Senior midfielder Valentin Noel put in a great ball into the box that junior forward Bertin Jacquesson ran onto and headed it at goal. Harms made a brilliant diving save to keep Pitt scoreless and Indiana on top.

“Indiana were kind of like, man-marking,” Noel said on what made Indiana so tough defensively. “So our plan was to try move at each other. But as coach said, we didn’t really find our form. We didn’t really create chances. We were not really dangerous. So that’s why we lost that game. We didn’t create that many chances.”

Walti, also Pitt captain, said that he is proud of his teammates’ effort over the entire season. Even with the loss, Walti said that he will remember his time at Pitt fondly and that they achieved so much over the course of the year.

“I don’t think it’s really set in just yet,” Walti said on his season and career ending at Pitt. “I think it’s the first time in my life it’s not certain that I’m not going to have another soccer game. I think that’s pretty hard to swallow. But I’m proud of the effort from the guys. Tonight wasn’t our night, but what a season. The guys have been a long time. I think we’re all proud of ourselves and I think we’re going to look back on this. Maybe not tonight, maybe not next week, but in the future we’ll look back on it and remember as some of the best times we’ve had.”



PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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