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Pitt Men’s Soccer Takes Down Crosstown Rival Duquesne, 2-0, in the “City Game”

Pitt men's soccer

PITTSBURGH — Pitt men’s soccer struggled to create chances in their matchup against rival Duquesne in the “City Game,” but managed to do just enough to get the 2-0 victory Tuesday night at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

The Panthers (6-4-3) (W-L-D) win over the Dukes (6-6-2) is the fourth straight under head coach Jay Vidovich and improves their record in the all-time series to 11-0-2. The win is also the second consecutive at home, as the Panthers defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies, 3-1, on Oct. 6.

Both teams struggled to do much of anything in the first half, as Pitt had four shots and Duquesne three shots, with both teams having two shots on goal.

One of the better chances for the Panthers came in the 13th minute, as graduate defender Fabian Grau got a header in front of goal off a corner that went just high.

The best chance for Dukes saw sophomore midfielder Ask Ekeland shoot directly from the free-kick, but it hit the side of the net and out for a free kick in the 34th minute.

Pitt would eventually break the deadlock in the 68th minute to take the lead. Senior midfielder Filip Mirkovic took the corner and found Grau at the back post, who got his head onto the cross. His header found junior midfielder Guilherme Feitosa in the middle of the box, who got used his thigh to hit the ball into the net for the opening goal.

The Panthers held off the Dukes rest of the match and would seal the win with a great counter attack in the 89th minute.

Most of the Dukes were up in the box for a throw in to try and tie it up, but junior striker Luis Sahmkow found the ball after it bounced around and started running towards the other goal. He laid it off for junior midfielder Luka Kozomara, who saw Dukes junior forward Jacob Casha deflect his cross, right to fellow junior midfielder Michael Sullivan. Sullivan found sophomore defender Raphael Cilli streaking down the right wing and he ripped a powerful shot into the back of the next to double the Panthers’ lead.

Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich loved the performance from his team. He noted the change in the lineup with injuries that required others to step up and play at the level needed to win against a good side in Duquesne.

“I thought we controlled the match,” Vidovich said. “Defending, our repress was very good. It was a tough team to break down, they were very competitive. So the first goal was major was for us and then to finish up with the second goal at the end of the match was a fantastic effort. Class team goal. To keep a clean sheet with a lot of new players out on the field, to get two goals like that is fantastic.”

Grau was one player who took advantage of the injuries. He originally started the first four matches of the season at centre-back, but prior to Monday night, his last start came Sept. 1 in a 4-1 loss on the road to Georgetown. He also only played twice after that in wins over Fairleigh Dickinson on Sept. 18 and then ranked No. 19 Denver on Sept. 25.

He came in for junior Mathys Lefebvre, who started the past nine matches for Pitt men’s soccer at centre-back with sophomore Jackson Gilman, but suffered an injury in the 2-1 loss to Virginia on the road last Friday.

One player who is back from injury and improving his game in 2023 is Feitosa. He suffered an injury himself in the 3-1 loss to then ranked No. 2 Marshall on Sept. 5 and missed five matches, before returning as a substitute against North Carolina on Sept. 29.

His goal tonight is the second this season, both coming in the last three games, as he scored in the win over Virginia Tech.

“It feels great,” Feitosa said. “Honestly, when you’re out, the only thing you want to do is come back as soon as possible and you always care what shape you’re going to come back and what’s going to be your level of performance. I’m feeling great. Even if I have a little pain here and there, I’m feeling great. I’m feeling like I can help the team and let’s keep it that way.”

Cilli has started most of the games this season for Pitt men’s soccer at right back. He picked up a red card in the 3-2 loss to then ranked No. 7 Syracuse on Sept. 22, which kept him out the next two matches. Coming off the bench against Virginia Tech, he scored the go-ahead goal in the win, a very similar goal to the one.

He is enjoying his first year at Pitt and thanks Vidovich and the coaching staff for the belief they’ve had in him so far to make an impact when he’s on the pitch.

“It’s a good sensation, but it is the most important when the team wins,” Cilli said. “So we are happy for the win. We don’t care who scores the goal. The most important is the team, it’s Pitt and we want to be on top of the country.”

Vidovich also spoke on the “City Game” and the importance of the rivalry between Pitt men’s soccer and Duquesne. He congratulated Duquesne head coach Chase Brooks for the level his team have played at the past two seasons and what the game means for soccer in the region.

“I think it’s great. A big game where there can be a lot of fan interest in the game. I think it’s great for Western Pa. and the City of Pittsburgh to have this. It’s an important game. They’ve shown their quality, especially the past couple of years and Chase has done a great job with them. They’ve been getting themselves to Tournament play and it’s a tremendous opportunity to play each other.”

Pitt men’s soccer will face No. 9 Duke Saturday night at home for Senior Night, where they’ll have former alumni at the match and will honor former head coach Joe Luxbacher on his induction into the Pitt Hall of Fame.

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