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Pitt men’s soccer foiled by Loyola in overtime, 2-1

Pitt's men's soccer team suffered its third straight loss Friday night against the Boston College Eagles. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

Pitt's men's soccer team suffered its third straight loss Friday night against the Boston College Eagles. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

Pitt's men's soccer team suffered its third straight loss Friday night against the Boston College Eagles. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

By Ted Zhang | Staff Writer

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After holding the No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels to just one goal on the road in a 1-0 loss on Friday, the Pitt men’s soccer team had to feel good about its chances back at home against Loyola on Tuesday night.

Instead, Loyola (2-5-0) shocked the Panthers (1-5-1 overall, 0-2-0 ACC) with two late goals at the end of regulation and overtime, securing the 2-1 victory over Pitt.

“We weren’t able to put them under pressure and close out space,” Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich said. “They got too many looks at the goal in the last 10 minutes, and we stopped pushing for a goal.”

Pitt took the pitch with dominance, keeping the ball in Loyola’s territory and attacking relentlessly in the first few minutes.

“The mentality at the start of the game was to get after it, press the ball,” Panthers captain Bryce Cregan said. “Coming out in the second half, we kinda sat in our shell a little bit. When they came at us, we just sat back— that was our biggest mistake.”

Pitt goalkeeper Mikal Outcalt continued his strong play in net from the North Carolina game early on, as he saved back-to-back shots by Loyola forward Brian Saramago in the 15th minute.

Mistakes plagued the Panthers’ offense in the first half, as they committed three offsides infractions on plays that could have led to goals.

Then, halfway through the first period, Pitt got another scoring chance, and this time, the Panthers executed. Forward Roosevelt Angulo penetrated into the penalty box and found midfielder Alec Anselmo, who sent it into the back of the net from 17 yards out.

In the 35th minute, Saramago had a golden opportunity to even the score. But Outcalt stonewalled him again for his third save in the game –– all against Saramago –– to keep the Panthers in the lead.

The save resulted in a corner kick for Greyhound midfielder Brennan Goldsmith, but Outcalt whisked the ball out of the air before it could reach the inside of the net.

Saramago and Panthers defender Tom Moxham had a scary moment at midfield 37 minutes into the game when they clashed into each other chasing a loose ball. After a tense few minutes, both of the players recovered and climbed back to their feet but didn’t return until the second half.

The first half ended with Pitt leading 1-0 against the Greyhounds, but neither team seem to have control of the momentum heading into the second half.

“It was the first time we had the lead going into the second half in awhile, so our players were feeling pretty good,” Vidovich said.

The second half began with a few stagnant possessions at midfield with neither team wanting to give ground to the other. While Pitt deferred to a more defensive strategy with a one-goal lead, Loyola controlled possession of the ball.

In the 55th minute, Panthers midfielder Luca Mellor intercepted a pass by Greyhounds defender Jonathan Sousa and found himself in a one-on-one scenario with Loyola goalkeeper Matt Sanchez. But Mellor failed to capitalize on the opportunity as he shot the ball wide left.

The Greyhounds began their counterattack at the 65th minute when midfielder Xander Saling received a beautiful through ball only to be thwarted by Outcalt, who made his sixth save of the game.

Loyola stayed on the offensive throughout the final 20 minutes of regulation, searching for the equalizing goal.

Then, Greyhounds forward Nico Brown drew a foul with two minutes left in the game, setting up a free kick for Loyola from 30 yards out. Greyhounds midfielder Barry Sharifi took the free kick and fired it into the upper right corner of the net, tying the game at one.

Pitt received a free kick chance of its own in the final minute of regulation, but Sanchez made the save on midfielder Josh Coan to send the game to sudden-death overtime.

The first 10-minute overtime period began with Loyola taking control of the first few possessions, riding on the momentum gathered from the waning minutes of regulation. Greyhounds defender Jake Campbell then drew a foul less than three minutes into the period, setting up another free kick for Loyola.

Again, Sharifi took the free kick from 29 yards out and bent the ball into the top right corner, securing the 2-1 win for Loyola.

“The bottom line is those were two savable shots for me, granted [Sharifi] put it on target,” Outcalt said. “I just have to do better next time. I have to look forward and look to fix it next time.”

The Panthers will resume conference play against the Duke Blue Devils on Friday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. in Durham, North Carolina.

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Pitt men’s soccer foiled by Loyola in overtime, 2-1