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Pitt Men's Soccer

Pitt falls to No. 2 Marshall at home, 3-1

Pitt men's soccer Courtesy of Pitt Athletics

PITTSBURGH — Pitt men’s soccer faced a tough opponent in No. 2 Marshall and played them well through 65 minutes Tuesday night at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

However, Marshall’s experience showed in the end and they scored two quick goals in five minutes, taking the victory on the road.

The Panthers’ (1-2-1) loss to the Thundering Herd (4-0-0) is the second in back-t0-back seasons, as they lost 2-1 on the road in 2022. It also makes it two losses in a row, as the Panthers lost to the Georgetown Hoyas, 4-1, last Friday in Washington, D.C. The last time the Panthers lost back-t0-back games was last season, to the Louisville Cardinals on the road and then the Virginia Cavaliers at home on Sept. 30, also the last time they lost at home.

Despite the loss, Panthers head coach Jay Vidovich took a lot of positives from his team’s performance. He loved the Panthers’ response throughout the game and dealing with injury as well in difficult moments.”

“A great rebound, a good response to the last one,” Vidovich said. “Probably very hard with how we dominated the game. Our immaturity and naivety, I think we let a couple of goals standing and the same thing, we got punished. They got their chances and they took them very well…conceding those two extra goals was too big of a hole to climb out of.”

Pitt had the first chance of the evening in the 15th minute, as junior midfielder Guilherme Feitosa nut-megged his defender and ran into space. He found sophomore forward Eben McIntyre sprinting down the left wing, who then put a great through ball to first-year forward Albert Thorsen. Thorsen laid out to get to the pass, but it was a little too fast for him and it went out for a goal kick.

Marshall would strike first in the 26th minute, right after a three minute hydration break. Sophomore forward Matthew Bell moved around Pitt junior centre-back Mathys Lefebvre and put a great pass into the middle of the box. Junior forward Alvaro Garcia-Pascual got onto the end of that pass and put it into the bottom left hand corner of the net to give his team the lead.

This made it the third game out of the first four that Pitt allowed their opponent to score first, with only the shutout of Howard the anomaly.

Panthers sophomore goalkeeper Cabral Carter made a great save in the 30th minute. Thundering Herd midfielder Marco Silva curled a shot into the corner, that Carter dove and pushed out for a corner.

Feitosa suffered an injury in the 37th minute after his right foot twisted in the turf on a challenge and did not return to the match. Vidovich chose to make three substitutions in bringing on juniors in midfielder Luka Kozomara and forward Abdoulaye Touré, as well as first-year forward Massimo Murania.

The Panthers would benefit from these substitutions with a goal two minutes later. Thorsen took a shot that got blocked and then received the ball back again. He then put a nice through ball for Kozomara, who blasted his shot into the back of the net to level the match at 1-1.

The goal for Kozomara is the third game he has scored in. He transferred from Temple, where he primarily played as a defender and never scored a collegiate goal. He said he loves scoring, but that he and his teammates missed chances to win the match off of a great press against the Thundering Herd’s backline.

“It’s nice to score, but in the end if we don’t win, nothing really counts,” Kozomara said. “It doesn’t matter who scores, who assists. The main thing is to win. Of course I’m happy with scoring, but if we don’t win, it’s nothing.”

A theme for the night became Pitt’s inability to take advantage of Marshall’s mistakes. When Marshall tried to play out from the back, Pitt had a number of chances to score, but aside from the Kozomara goal, they failed to convert.

The Thundering Herd would eventually score two goals in four minutes to seal the victory on the road over the Panthers.

After a poor pass from Lefebvre, Marshall got the ball back and created an attack. Senior forward Adam Aoumaich took a shot on goal, which deflected off first-year defender Raphaël Cilli and then Lefebvre past a trailing Carter for the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute.

The Panthers lost possession again in the 70th minute, as Lefebvre’s pass to junior midfielder Michael Sullivan got taken off him. Bell eventually got the ball and put in a beautiful pass to Silva running into the box, who slotted his shot into the right hand corner to double the Thundering Herd’s lead.

Lefebvre made his first career start for the Panthers coming in place for graduate centre-back Fabian Grau. Despite some mistakes he committed, Vidovich praised his performance against a top team like the Thundering Herd.

“Fantastic,” Vidovich said. “Earned the start and he’s been working at it very hard for a year. He did a great job.”

Pitt had a chance late, as Marshall first-year defender Braian Amaro clipped Thorsen, who was running onto goal on a great pass from Sullivan. The referee originally gave a penalty, but since the foul occurred just outside the box, he placed it there. He did give Amaro a red card, putting Marshall down to 10 men, but Pitt’s ensuing free kick went straight into the wall.

Pitt men’s soccer stays at home to face another great foe in No. 9 Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7:00 p.m. for their first ACC match of 2023. The match has extra importance for Vidovich, as he served as head coach of Wake Forest for 21 seasons rom 1994-2014, winning the National Championship in 2007.

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