Pitt closes regular season with another 3-0 defeat; draws Notre Dame in ACC t-ment

Pitt men’s soccer team lost for the second consecutive game by a 3-0 margin at home, and this time in an important ACC conference game against Virginia Tech before a packed house at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Friday night.

After earning a handful of corner kick opportunities in the first twenty minutes of the first half, the Hokies (8-8, 3-5 ACC) finally converted on its eighth attempt in the 22nd minute, as Marcelo Acuna headed home a corner kick delivered by Gaetan Roux.

After an impressive run that included three wins against ranked opponents in October,  the Panthers (8-9, 2-6 ACC) struggled for the second straight home game to develop any kind of rhythm in its attack.  Only Pol Planellas provided one dangerous strike on target in the first half that saw the Hokies dominate the Panthers, including in shots (8-4), as well as holding a significant 12-3 corner kick advantage.

The second half wasn’t much better for the Panthers.

Much like its loss to Akron on Tuesday, while the Panthers attack sputtered for the most part, they would again get knocked out by a one-two punch of second half goals in a short period of time.

Acuna capitalized on a lot of space on a counter attack in the 60th minute after Pitt had a failed corner kick, to find room to shoot from 19 yards. Pitt’s keeper Mikal Outcalt had no chance to stop Acuna from scoring his team leading 11th goal of the season on a blazing shot the hit the back of the left side of the goal.

Just three minutes later, the Panthers couldn’t clear a ball played into the box. First Virginia Tech’s Justus Kauppinen attempted a bicycle kick shot in the goal box area, but he mis-connected. Brendan Moyers‘ though was in position to redirect the ball into the goal by banging it under the crossbar. The ball caromed downward on the goal line area and then bounced out of goal area. The official Mark Gorak ruled it a goal that would put the game away.

The Panthers have now lost three straight, and will now take on Notre Dame in the ACC tournament on Wednesday in South Bend. The winner will No. 2 North Carolina in the quarterfinals Sunday, Nov. 5 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

 The Panthers defeated the then-ranked No. 7 Irish earlier in the season, 1-0, on the road. Pitt’s historic win over Notre Dame was its first since 2002 and it’s first over top-10 since 2000.

With an RPI of 21, but losing to a Virginia Tech side that was 29th coming into Friday’s match, the Panthers chances for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament may now be on life support, barring a miraculous run in the ACC tournament next week.

With the win, Virginia Tech remains unbeaten all time against Pitt (4-0-4).

The Panthers were playing without senior captain and center back Bryce Cregan, who left Tuesday’s loss to Akron with a knee injury. Cregan’s college career is now over, as he’s been ruled out for the season.

The Panthers honored seven graduating seniors: Kevin AnguloMatt Bischoff, Cregan, Mauriq HillRaj KahlonWill Marshall and Pol Planellas.

Pitt’s Starting XI

Mikal Outcalt (G), Tom Moxham, Maruiq Hill, Javi Perez, Pol Planellas, Edward Kizza, Marcony Pimentel, Alexander Dexter, Tim Ekpone, Matt Bishoff, Alex Peperak 

Subs used:

Joshua Gaspari, Raj Kahlon, Colin Brezniak and Kevin Angulo.

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