PITTSBURGH — Pitt men’s soccer battled with No. 18 North Carolina for the full 90 minutes in a thrilling, scoreless draw at Ambrose Urbanic Field Friday night.
The Panthers (4-3-3) (W-L-D) are now winless in their past three ACC matches, with two draws and a loss last Friday to the No. 7 Syracuse Orange. This does keep the Panthers unbeaten at home in their past four matches and 4-1-2 in 2023. It also is the first ever draw against the Tar Heels (4-0-4) and keeps the Panthers unbeaten in the past three matches in the all-time series.
Pitt men’s soccer head coach Jay Vidovich knew the match against North Carolina would be a tough one, as the away side conceded only five goals in their first seven matches. He complimented his team’s effort and their growth as the match progressed.
“I felt like we grew into the game in the second half and we just did a really good job,” Vidovich said. “We had a lot of half looks. So just real happy. It’s soccer right? The ball doesn’t always fall, but I thought the way we controlled the match and as I said we grew into it, we played more confidently and we did a really good job in the end.”
North Carolina started off the better of the two teams and created the first real chance of the match in the 11th minute. Graduate forward Martin Vician put in a great through ball for fellow graduate forward David Bercedo in the box, but his shot went just wide of the right post.
Pitt would eventually progress as the first half went along, having more possession and creating chances as a result. Graduate midfielder Joao Souza put in a cross from the right wing at the far post for sophomore forward Eben McIntyre, but a UNC defender headed it out for a corner in the 25th minute.
The Tar Heels had their best opportunity to score in the 30th minute. Vician received a great through ball, cut behind Panthers junior center-back Mathys Lefebvre and shot on goal, but sophomore goalkeeper Cabral Carter made a great kick save to keep it scoreless.
— Pitt Men's Soccer (@Pitt_MSOC) September 29, 2023
Carter made another solid save in the 42nd minute, as Tar Heels junior forward Daniel Kutsch ran down the right wing and blasted a shot at him. Carter made it look easy, diving down to his right and catching the shot in his gloves.
Pitt started the second half with great effort on the attack that led to some great chances to take the lead.
Sophomore defender Noah Hall found junior midfielder Guilherme Feitosa completely unmarked in the box for a cross. Feitosa headed it towards goal, but it hit off the right post in the 49th minute. Hall almost found Feitosa again in the 53rd minute on a cross, but UNC redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Cordes managed to get a hand on it and push it out.
Panthers first-year forward Albert Thorsen moved into the box and ripped a shot that went wide in the 69th minute. He made another good play in the 70th minute, gifting a great opportunity to junior midfielder Michael Sullivan. Sullivan dribbled into the box, but his shot was weak and right at Cordes for an easy save.
Carter had to come up massive in the 73rd minute to keep Pitt in the game. North Carolina sophomore defender Parker O’Farrell put in a cross from the right, which landed at the feet of Vician. Vician ripped a powerful shot on goal, but Carter stood strong and made a fantastic save with his hands to put it out for a corner.
73' | WHAT A SAVEEEEE 🚫🚫
— Pitt Men's Soccer (@Pitt_MSOC) September 30, 2023
Carter finished with a season-high five saves for his fourth clean sheet of the season for Pitt. Carter, who is in his first full season as the starter, complimented his backline and was also happy himself to get the shutout.
“Think, really just seeing a lot of actions and getting a lot of different experiences has been really great for me,” Carter said. “As the games come, I feel like I’m growing into the role more and more.”
Feitosa almost scored from a free kick in the 84th minute, as his attempt just hit the top of the cross bar and out for a goal kick.
The Panthers had two more chances in the 87th minute, as senior midfielder Filip Mirkovic hit a nice shot from just outside the box with his left foot, that Cordes immediately dove down to gather for the save. Junior striker Luis Sahmkow had the ball fall to him in the middle of the box and flicked a shot on goal, but Cordes again made an important stop to keep the Tar Heels in the match.
Feitosa’s performance was important not just for the Panthers in this match, but for the future as well. He missed the previous five matches after suffering an injury in the loss to then ranked No. 2 Marshall on Sept. 5 at home and his presence in the attack will be vital going forward.
Pitt also had some other players return against North Carolina for valuable minutes. This includes Sullivan, who missed the last game out against Denver on Monday after earning a red card in the Syracuse game, first-year forward Abdoulaye Toure, who didn’t train all week, and Sahmkow, who didn’t play against Denver with injury.
“Start getting our squad together at this time of year, it can’t come at a better time when you start thinking now we have a week until Virginia Tech,” Vidovich said. “Crucial that everyone is available and the team just gets better.”
Pitt men’s soccer will look to get back to winning ways as they take on Virginia Tech next Friday, Oct. 6 in the final game of their four match homestand.