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Pitt Men's Soccer

Pitt Men’s Soccer Gets Back to Winning Ways with 3-1 Victory over No. 19 Denver

Pitt men's soccer. Courtesy of Pitt Athletics

PITTSBURGH — Pitt men’s soccer bounced back from a tough loss to No. 7 Syracuse on the road last Friday by winning 3-1 over No. 19 Denver Monday night at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

The Panthers (4-3-2) win their third straight match at home, which also saw them defeat the then ranked No. 9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons 3-0 on Sept. 9 and then the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights last Monday, 5-1. It also improves the series all-time at 2-0-1 (W-L-D) against the Pioneers (5-2-3), with a 2-2 draw last season and a 3-2 win in overtime in 2019.

The performance is even more of a surprise considering that junior midfielder Michael Sullivan and sophomore defender Raphael Cilli both received red cards in the defeat to Syracuse and with some injuries as well, something that Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich noted post game.

“A collective effort,” Vidovich said on his team’s performance. “Down and out, to injury and card issues we were down five, six starters. So to see the young men step up and doing their job the way they did. They dug in and put in the work just means that I’m so happy for the guys. I thought they had a good performance. New guys coming in and making an impact for us.”

Pitt got going early, scoring their first goal in the third minute. First-year forward Massimo Murania delivered a great pass with the inside of his right foot to sophomore defender Noah Hall. Hall sprinted down the right side of the field and put in a cross that graduate midfielder Joao Souza flicked with his back heel, which hit the inside of the left post into the goal.

After a few good chances, which saw sophomore forward Eben McIntyre’s header hit just off the line, The Panthers would double their lead in the 14th minute. Senior midfielder Filip Mirkovic received the ball in the middle of the field and put in a great through ball for Souza in the box. Souza got to the pass and put his shot to the left corner again, leading to his second goal of the match.

“Filip always has the different vision,” Souza said on his second goal. “Then I saw the space, the defender was worried about Massimo [Murania] and I saw the gap there and I just ran and he saw me and he assisted me with a really good ball. I was really happy to score again.”

Vidovich, who also complimented the team on changing as much as it did, gave credit to Souza for his performance against the Pioneers.

“He came inside in the half-space, found the ball,” Vidovich said. “His run for the second goal was absolutely fantastic where he used his body at very a high level. So that and the way he played up for the team. It was a really good performance.”

Denver would score their first goal in the 16th minute to cut into Pitt’s lead. Junior midfielder Sam Bassett took the corner and delivered a beautiful cross to junior defender Jason Beloli at the back post, who headed it into the back of the net.

The Panthers used great build up play to score their third goal of the night in the 54th minute. First-year midfielder Santiago Ferreira received the ball in midfield and sprinted down the left wing before cutting inside. He passed it to McIntyre back on the left wing, who crossed it first time to first-year forward Albert Thorsen in the box. Thorsen just had to hit it with his left foot and got his third goal of the season for the Panthers

Pitt would hold Denver to limited chances throughout the match and just three shots on goal the entire game, leading to the victory.

Souza finished with two goals, his first ever multi goal game in his five year collegiate career, playing his first four with Marshall. In his first and only season with Pitt, Souza is enjoying his time and he believes they can reach the top of college soccer.

“I love the team, I love the environment,” Souza said. “It’s just a great environment to be and I believe we have a lot to reach this year. So hopefully we can get in the college cup again and win the National Title.”

Pitt men’s soccer will take on North Carolina on Friday at 7 p.m. in a return to ACC play and the second of their three match homestand.

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