University of Pittsburgh head men’s soccer coach Jay Vidovich announced the 2017 regular season schedule Monday afternoon, highlighted by eight NCAA tournament teams from a year ago.
“We built a schedule that matches the ambitions of the Pitt soccer program,” said Vidovich. “We can only become one of the best by competing against the best. Our ACC schedule allows us to play some of the top teams in the country and we are hosting a pair of traditional powers and natural non-conference rivals in West Virginia and Penn State. We have an exciting schedule this year, especially at home, which will showcase great soccer for our fans.”
Of the eight NCAA tournament teams, two reached the Final Four and four made it to the Elite Eight.
And, in a game of added local interest — Pitt will take on Robert Morris at home on Tuesday, September 19.
The Panthers will host nine opponents at Ambrose Urbanic Field, which will feature four ACC foes and long-time rivals West Virginia and Penn State.
“This team has put in countless hours preparing for the fall,” Vidovich added. “Following our winter and spring training, there is a tremendous amount of belief in our team. I saw massive individual and collective development, especially this spring, and it was exciting to be a part of. These young men are hungry, energized and are ready to prove themselves to our fans as well as against the best programs in the country. Over the next three months, we will continue to grind while remembering our ambitions and stay true to the process.”
Pitt opens the year with a pair of exhibition matches, starting on the road at American University Sunday, Aug. 13, at 5 p.m. The Panthers then play at home for the first time Saturday, Aug. 19, when VCU pays a visit.
at Ohio State | Friday, Aug. 25 | Columbus, Ohio | 7 p.m.
Pitt opens the regular season with a weekend trip to Ohio State. The Panthers and Buckeyes clash for the 13thtime in program history, with Pitt leading the series, 6-4-2. The two teams have not met since the 2003 season. Ohio State concluded the 2016 season 5-13-1 overall with a 3-4-1 mark against Big Ten opponents. The Buckeyes were knocked out of the conference tournament in the first round by Wisconsin.
vs. James Madison | Sunday, Aug. 27 | Columbus, Ohio | 4 p.m.
The Panthers close out their weekend in Columbus with James Madison, meeting for just the second time in program history and for the first time since 2010. The Dukes wrapped up 2016 5-9-3 overall while going 3-3-2 against CAA foes.
vs. Longwood | Friday, Sept. 1 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
Pitt’s regular season home-opener features Longwood under the lights as the two teams meet for the fourth time. The Lancers went 8-12-1 overall and 3-5-0 in the Big South a year ago.
at Loyola (Md.) | Monday, Sept. 4 | Baltimore, Md. | 7 p.m.
The Panthers head to Maryland to take on Loyola in their lone Monday contest of the season. Pitt and the Greyhounds meet for the second time. Loyola concluded the 2016 campaign 8-6-3 overall while posting a 6-1-2 record against Patriot League opponents.
vs. North Carolina* | Saturday, Sept. 9 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
The Panthers open ACC play when they host North Carolina for their first Saturday match of the season. The Tar Heels are one of eight NCAA Tournament teams on Pitt’s 2017 schedule as they reached the semifinals of the 2016 College Cup, falling to eventual champion Stanford. North Carolina finished the year 14-3-4 overall and stood at the top of the ACC Coastal Division with a 5-1-2 conference record. The Tar Heels advanced to the quarterfinals of the ACC Championships, but were stopped by Boston College, 1-0. North Carolina finished the year ranked No. 4 in the NSCAA Coaches Poll and was fifth in the RPI. The Tar Heels will be without two of their top defenders in Colton Storm and Walker Hume as both were taken in the first round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, however UNC returns reigning ACC Freshman of the Year in midfielder Cam Lindley.
at Wake Forest* | Saturday, Sept. 16 | Winston-Salem, N.C. | 7:30 p.m.
Pitt faces arguably the top team on its schedule in mid-September as it makes the trip to Spry Stadium to take on Wake Forest. The Demon Deacs had a stellar 2016 season that resulted in a runner-up finish in the College Cup and were crowned the 2016 ACC Champions. Wake Forest will be without a trio of top talents in Jacori Hayes, Alec Ferrell and Ian Harkes, all of whom were drafted to MLS teams. Harkes was crowned the top collegiate soccer player in the country at the conclusion of the College Cup run by winning the MAC Hermann Trophy. Prior to that, Harkes was named ACC Midfielder of the Year and ACC Championship MVP. The Demon Deacons finished No. 2 in the final NSCAA Coaches poll and the No. 3 RPI. Wake Forest capped off the historic year 19-3-3 overall while going 5-1-2 in the ACC.
vs. Robert Morris | Tuesday, Sept. 19 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
The Panthers play their first Tuesday game of the season at Ambrose Urbanic Field when Robert Morris makes the short trip across the river. The Colonials are coming off a 4-11-2 season and went 1-5-1 against conference opponents. The two teams clash for the 34th time in program history.
at Clemson* | Friday, Sept. 22 | Clemson, S.C. | 7 p.m.
Pitt makes the trip to Historic Riggs Field to face its third NCAA Tournament team of the season. The Tigers finished the 2016 campaign with the No. 1 RPI in the country while ranking fifth in the NSCAA Coaches poll. The Tigers fell short in the ACC Championship match, dropping a 3-1 decision to Wake Forest. Clemson then made a run in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Elite Eight where they fell to Denver. The ACC Coastal team posted a 14-4-5 overall record while going 4-1-3 against conference foes.
vs. West Virginia | Tuesday, Sept. 26 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
The Backyard Brawl returns in 2017 for the 48th meeting between Pitt and West Virginia. Although meeting in exhibition a year ago, the two teams have not played a regular season game since 2011. The Mountaineers concluded the 2016 campaign 8-7-1 overall while finishing 1-4 in the Mid-American Conference. The season was highlighted by defender Jack Elliott being drafted by the Philadelphia Union in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
vs. Syracuse* | Friday, Sept. 29 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
The Panthers remain in Pittsburgh to host Syracuse in their second Friday home game, when the teams meet for the 22nd time in program history. The Orange concluded the 2016 season 12-4-4 overall and went 3-2-3 in conference play. Syracuse reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to ACC foe and eventual semifinalist North Carolina. Miles Robinson, 2016 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, returns this season, however, the Orange will be without four top players after losing them to the MLS SuperDraft.
at Columbia | Tuesday, Oct. 3 | New York, N.Y. | 7 p.m.
Pitt makes a trip to the Big Apple to take on first-time opponent Columbia. The Lions suffered just three losses a year ago, finishing the 2016 campaign 13-3-1 overall while going 5-1-1 against Ivy League opponents. Columbia’s RPI ranked 50th at the conclusion of the season.
vs. Duke* | Friday, Oct. 6 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
The Panthers return to Pittsburgh for a pair of home matches, starting with the Blue Devils. Duke finished the year 7-8-2 overall and 2-5-1 against ACC opponents. The Blue Devils’ lone conference tie came against Pitt Sept. 23 in Durham. The two teams played to a 1-1 double overtime draw. Duke will be without goalkeeper Robert Moewes this season as he was selected in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft.
vs. Penn State | Tuesday, Oct. 10 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
Pitt hosts its in-state rival Penn State as the teams meet for the 33rd time. The two teams most recently met a year ago in State College, however, prior to that the foes had not met since 1994. The Nittany Lions posted an 8-8-2 overall record and went 4-4 in the Big Ten a year ago. Penn State fell in the opening round of the conference tournament to Michigan State, ending the season. Two Nittany Lions entered the MLS SuperDraft in 2017 in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.
at Notre Dame* | Friday, Oct. 13 | Notre Dame, Ind. | 7 p.m.
The Panthers make the trip to long-time opponent Notre Dame in mid-October to face off for the 22nd time. The Fighting Irish are coming off a 12-7-2 season that included a 3-3-2 record in the ACC. Notre Dame finished the 2016 season ranked No. 14 in the NSCAA Coaches poll, while boasting the No. 13 RPI. The Irish fell in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championships, dropped a 1-0 decision to eventual champion Wake Forest. At the conclusion of the tournament, Jon Gallagher was named ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Notre Dame was then knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Louisville in the third round. ND’s center back Brandon Aubrey was selected in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft, joining the Toronto FC.
at Virginia* | Friday, Oct. 20 | Charlottesville, Va. | 7 p.m.
Pitt concludes its regular season road schedule the following weekend as it takes on the 2014 College Cup Champions. The returning NCAA Tournament team posted an 11-4-5 overall finish with a 3-2-3 mark against ACC opponents. Virginia reached the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, but were halted by Louisville in a 1-0 decision. The Cavaliers then fell in the third round of the NCAA Tournament as Stanford, the eventual champions, outlasted Virginia 1-0 in double overtime. Virginia checked in at No. 13 in the final NSCAA Coaches poll while finishing with an RPI of 19.
vs. Akron | Tuesday, Oct. 24 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
The Panthers host the Zips in their final regular season non-conference game of the year at Ambrose Urbanic Field Oct. 24. The two teams clash for the 26th time in program history and the first since 1983. Akron, a consistent NCAA tournament team, fell in the second round of the tournament in 2016 after clinching the MAC Championship. The Zips finished 13-6-3 overall while posting a 3-1-1 mark against MAC opponents. Akron was ranked No. 24 in the final NSCAA Coaches poll with an RPI of 28. Akron will be without MAC Freshman of the Year Jonathan Lewis as he was selected No. 3 overall in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. Defender Danilo Radjen joined Lewis in the draft as he was selected in the second round by the Houston Dynamo.
vs. Virginia Tech* | Friday, Oct. 27 | Pittsburgh, Pa. | 7 p.m.
Pitt wraps up the regular season with Virginia Tech, the final NCAA Tournament team from 2016. The Hokies had a notable season a year ago, finishing 13-5-4 overall with a 3-4-1 mark in the ACC. Virginia Tech’s season came to an end in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament as Wake Forest took them down 2-0. The Hokies finished eighth in the NSCAA Coaches poll with an RPI of 11.