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No. 2 Notre Dame tops Pitt men's soccer, 2-0 - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

No. 2 Notre Dame tops Pitt men’s soccer, 2-0

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Pitt's men's soccer team fell in a 2-0 shutout against Notre Dame Friday night.  Andrew Shin | Staff Photographer

Pitt's men's soccer team fell in a 2-0 shutout against Notre Dame Friday night. Andrew Shin | Staff Photographer

Pitt's men's soccer team fell in a 2-0 shutout against Notre Dame Friday night. Andrew Shin | Staff Photographer

By Ryan Zimba | Staff Writer

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Fresh off a 2-1 win on the road against Longwood, the Pitt men’s soccer team was unable to sustain its momentum in a 2-1 loss against No. 2 Notre Dame.

A capacity crowd of 842 fans at Ambrose Urbanic Field came out to watch the Panthers (2-6-2 overall, 0-3-1 ACC) try to pull off a massive upset against the Fighting Irish (7-1-0 overall, 3-1-0 ACC). Although they lost, they kept the game competitive and stayed within reach thanks to the fantastic play of the defense for much of the game.

“We did a pretty good job, particularly in the first half, of putting pressure on their backs so they couldn’t deliver balls to their flank play,” Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich said. “Overall, it was a great effort by our guys to put pressure on the ball.”

Although the Panthers’ defense played well, the Irish were quick to take advantage of any mistakes made, proving why they are ranked No. 2 in the country.

In the 22nd minute, Pitt defensemen Stephane Pierre misplayed the ball, leaving a Notre Dame attacker one-on-one with goalkeeper Mikal Outcalt. Outcalt made the initial save, but on the ensuing play, Irish forward Jon Gallagher scored his seventh goal of the year to put his team up 1-0.

“It was a good run in,” Pitt defender Bryce Cregan said. “Obviously the kid got on the ball and made the right movements and buried it away. Unfortunately, we really couldn’t do much about it.”

Notre Dame attacked relentlessly for the remainder of the half, but Pitt’s defense held. At halftime, the Panthers found themselves in just a one-goal deficit.

Coming out in the second half, the Irish decided to play more conservatively, keeping Gallagher –– their leading goal-scorer -–– on the bench at the start of the half.

As a result, Notre Dame’s attack was less potent than in the first half, leaving the door open for Pitt.

The Panthers had their best chance of the game in the 68th minute, as first-year midfielder Luca Mellor sent a shot flying towards the upper corner of the net. Irish goalkeeper Chris Hubbard came up with a spectacular diving save to keep his team up 1-0.

In the late stages of the match, Notre Dame put Gallagher back into the game in the hopes of extending their lead, and the decision immediately paid off. With less than 10 minutes to go, Gallagher put the game away, blasting a shot right in between the legs of Outcalt.

This loss knocks the Panthers down to last place in the ACC Coastal Division. Pitt’s main issue remains its offense, which only managed 3 shots for the entire game.

“We need to go on and try to create chances, try to be attacking-minded, and be positive on the ball especially in their final third,” Mellor said.

The Panthers must put this loss behind them quickly, as they continue their homestand at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3. against Saint Mary’s.

“The challenge now for us is to play Saint Mary’s on Monday,” said Vidovich. “Emotionally, the guys are spent. They’ve been putting out here for some top teams lately, so to turn around and play on Monday is going to be a big challenge.”

After Monday’s game, Pitt will resume conference play at home against Boston College on Friday, Oct. 7, before traveling to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on in-state rival Penn State.

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No. 2 Notre Dame tops Pitt men’s soccer, 2-0