Pitt men’s soccer squashed by Syracuse in season-ending 4-0 loss


Josh Coan attempted Pitt's only two shots on goal in a season-ending 4-0 loss to Syracuse Wednesday night. John Hamilton | Senior Staff Photographer

By Alex Butelli | For The Pitt News

The Pitt men’s soccer team’s season came to a close Wednesday night with a shutout loss against the No. 5-seeded Syracuse Orange in the ACC Tournament.

The Panthers (2-13-3 overall, 0-6-2 ACC) fell to Syracuse (11-3-3 overall, 3-2-3 ACC), 4-0, in the first round of the 2016 ACC Tournament at the SU Soccer Stadium in Syracuse, New York. Despite their No. 5 standing in the conference, the Orange entered the game as the No. 7 team in the country. Meanwhile, Pitt finished last in the ACC and entered the tournament at No.12.

Syracuse went to work early on offense, spending much of the first half deep in the Panthers’ territory. Pitt goalkeeper Jacob Rooth made a crucial mistake, losing the ball to Orange forward Chris Nanco in the 11th minute for an easy one-on-one goal.

The Orange nearly added another score four minutes later on a cross from midfielder Sergio Camargo, but the strong header went just wide of Pitt’s goal.

The Panthers began to control possession as the 20th minute approached, but the Orange offense quickly fired back with an unassisted second goal by Nanco. The shot deflected directly into the middle of Pitt’s net.

Pitt defender Stephane Pierre attempted the Panthers’ first shot of the match in the 32nd minute but the kick sailed wide left. The Syracuse offense pushed two consecutive threats afterward, with Nanco at the forefront of both failed attempts.

The Panthers saw their first real chance in the 34th minute when Orange goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert lobbed a weak kick to the Pitt offense just outside of the box. The Panthers lost the ball shortly after.

Syracuse continued its assault on Pitt’s net, putting up four shots in the last five minutes of the half. Orange forward Johannes Pieles created a golden opportunity toward the end of the half, but Rooth made a diving desperation save at the goal line to keep the game within reach.

The Orange entered the half in total control, and the game wasn’t nearly as close as the 2-0 score indicated. Nanco and Pieles dominated the first half with a combined seven shots, helping the Orange outshoot the Panthers, 11-2.

After an extended halftime because of a power outage in the stadium, the second half began under heavy rain in New York.

Pitt midfielder Luca Mellor created an opportunity in the 60th minute but fired a shot that went just high over the crossbar.

In the 63rd minute, Nanco continued to torment the Panthers. He found the ball inside Pitt’s box and dished it to Syracuse midfielder Jonathan Hagman. Hagman gathered the ball and immediately fired a shot inside the near post for the Orange’s third goal of the game.

Seven minutes later, Syracuse struck again.

Orange midfielder Camargo launched a shot off of Pitt’s crossbar in the 70th minute, allowing Hagman to net his second goal off an easy rebound. The Orange jumped to a 4-0 lead before the Panthers even placed a shot on net.

Forward Josh Coan placed Pitt’s first shot on goal of the game in the 74th minute, but Hilpert easily collected it. Coan fired a shot on target the next time the Panthers entered the zone, and again, Hilpert made the save.

Rooth stopped Nanco’s last chance to earn his hat-trick goal in the 81st minute. Neither team found the back of the net again, and the one-sided matchup ended in a 4-0 win for Syracuse.

The Panthers concluded their first season under new head coach Jay Vidovich in the same place they ended last season — at the bottom of one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA. After finishing 5-9-3 overall last year, Pitt’s record dipped to 2-13-3 in 2016, and again the Panthers failed to pick up an ACC win.

It remains unclear whether Vidovich’s hire will pay off for the team in the future, but it’s clear that the program still has a ways to go to compete in such a loaded conference.

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