Pitt men’s soccer battles to 1-1 draw at Duke


The Pitt men's soccer team fought to a 1-1 draw against the Duke Blue Devils on Friday night. Meghan Sunners | Senior Staff Photographer

By Alessandro Conway | For The Pitt News

The Pitt men’s soccer team didn’t get its first ACC win, but showed improvement on Friday against the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina.

After suffering a disappointing 2-1 home loss to Loyola three days ago, the Panthers (1-5-2 overall, 0-2-1 ACC) battled to a 1-1 draw against the Duke (3-2-2 overall, 0-2-1 ACC) on Friday night.

Both teams entered the game at 0-2 in ACC play and in need of their first victory in conference play, but instead, they settled for a tie. Frequent scoring opportunities made for an exciting and evenly contested match, but in overtime, exhaustion appeared to take its toll.

The Blue Devils lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation to start the game, hoping to hold the majority of the possession. Also in the 4-2-3-1, Pitt looked to counterattack Duke particularly through play from first-year midfielder Luca Mellor.

Things could have gotten out of hand for the Panthers early on after a defensive breakdown on the very first play of the game.

Duke goalkeeper Robert Moewes’s goal kick evaded Pitt’s midfielders and caught the defense off guard, leaving fellow teammate Brian White with a clear path to goal. Panthers goalkeeper Mikal Outcalt tried to block White’s shot, taking him down in the box in the process.

White stepped up to take the penalty kick and slotted it in with an emphatic strike down the middle, giving the Blue Devils a 1-0 lead after only 26 seconds.

Following the goal, Duke kept high pressure to stop Pitt from getting back into the game. The Blue Devils came close to scoring again four minutes later when White dribbled his way into the box, but Pitt defender Stephane Pierre deflected the shot wide.

A series of corner kicks from Duke kept the Panthers on the defensive. Yet slowly, passes began to connect and Pitt began to put its offense together. Defensive pressure in the 11th minute allowed Panthers midfielder Raj Kahlon to get a shot off, but he sailed it high over the net.

Pitt found its equalizer in the 22nd minute when Mellor –– the Panthers’ leading scorer –– received a corner kick from midfielder Darcy Bloemen. It didn’t appear to be a dangerous header, but the Blue Devils’ keeper misjudged it, allowing the ball to bounce over him and into the top left corner of the net.

The referee called another penalty in favor of Duke right at the end of the first half, giving the Blue Devils a chance to regain the lead.

But Outcalt neutralized Duke defender Carter Manley’s shot, redeeming his earlier mistake and ending the first half with the teams tied at one.

The Panthers entered the second half galvanized by Outcalt’s save and hoped to ride its momentum, but it was still a tightly contested battle. Pitt nearly let up the go-ahead goal nine minutes into the second half as defender Tom Moxham misdirected a Blue Devils free kick off the crossbar, but the game remained tied.

Duke tried to take advantage of newly-inserted defender Jared Golestani’s size through long throw-ins into the box, giving Pitt’s defense a lot of trouble. But no real scoring chances developed.

Regulation ended with the score still tied at one, and overtime produced less and less action. The Panthers took the only shot attempt of the first overtime period, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

Then, in the second overtime period, White took a shot for the win for the Blue Devils after a crafty play on the wing by first-year teammate Macario Hing-Glover. This was the only shot of the second overtime period, but it missed the net, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Panthers will resume play against the Longwood Lancers on Monday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. in Farmville, Virginia.

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