The Pitt News

Late goal lifts Saint Mary’s to 1-0 win over Pitt men’s soccer

The+Pitt+men%27s+soccer+team+fell+in+a+home+shutout+to+the+Saint+Mary%E2%80%99s+Gaels+at+Ambrose+Urbanic+Field+Monday+Night.+Wenhao+Wu+%7C+Senior+Staff+Photographer
The Pitt men's soccer team fell in a home shutout to the Saint Mary’s Gaels at Ambrose Urbanic Field Monday Night. Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photographer

The Pitt men's soccer team fell in a home shutout to the Saint Mary’s Gaels at Ambrose Urbanic Field Monday Night. Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photographer

The Pitt men's soccer team fell in a home shutout to the Saint Mary’s Gaels at Ambrose Urbanic Field Monday Night. Wenhao Wu | Senior Staff Photographer

By Steve Rotstein | Sports Editor

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Taking a break from a grueling ACC schedule, the Pitt men’s soccer team might have expected an easier night at home against non-conference opponent Saint Mary’s, California.

The St. Mary’s Gaels rolled into Pittsburgh with a lot of confidence after a 2-1 overtime victory over the No. 17 West Virginia Mountaineers on Oct. 1. Now, they’ll head back to California with a pair of wins after a 1-0 victory over the Panthers at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Monday night.

The teams started the game by battling for possession in the middle of the field, with neither one generating any scoring chances in the opening five minutes. In the eighth minute, Saint Mary’s mounted its first offensive attack with a promising cross into the box that Pitt’s defense headed out of bounds.

The Gaels’ ensuing corner kick was deflected harmlessly out of the box, and the teams resumed fighting for control of the ball.

Just under 10 minutes into the game, Saint Mary’s drew a foul to set up a free kick from about 30 yards out. Defender Maximilian Koeps took the kick, which bounced off the Panthers’ defensive wall and right back to him. Koeps then sent a second shot at the goal, but Pitt goalkeeper Mikal Outcalt corralled it to keep the game scoreless.

Saint Mary’s pleaded for a foul call midway through the first half when a Panthers defender brought down a Gaels attacker on a long pass to the left of the goal, but the officials had already blown the play dead.

In the 26th minute, Saint Mary’s forward Frederick Karman received a looping free kick at point-blank range in front of the net, but Pitt’s defense cleared the ball out. The Gaels spent more time in the Panthers’ zone than the other way around, but most of the first half took place near midfield.

Both teams finished the half with five total shots and three shots on goal, but neither side really came close to getting on the board.

Pitt did a better job of maintaining possession in the first 15 minutes of the second half but still couldn’t find the back of the net. Midfielder Raj Kahlon sent a beautiful through-ball across the field and into the box, but Saint Mary’s goalkeeper Remi Prieur saved John Fritz’s diving header attempt.

Two minutes later, the Gaels thought they had taken the lead on a goal by Karman, but officials ruled the play offside.

Pitt received back-to-back corner kick opportunities with 25 minutes left in regulation, but neither were successful. Saint Mary’s threatened with a corner kick of its own five minutes later, but the ball rolled just past the net.

Shortly after, the Gaels received another corner kick and didn’t waste it.

Midfielder Stephen Dougherty took the kick and directed it into the box, where the ball glanced off the head of Saint Mary’s forward Jake Rudel and past Outcalt for the first goal of the game.

Panthers defender Curren Page floated a shot toward the net from the right side of the field with less than four minutes left, but Prieur timed it just right and made a jumping save to preserve the shutout.

A final header attempt by midfielder Luca Mellor on a corner kick went wide right, and the Gaels held on for the 1-0 victory.

Pitt will resume conference play against the Boston College Eagles at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Friday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.

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Late goal lifts Saint Mary’s to 1-0 win over Pitt men’s soccer