The Pitt men’s soccer team’s winning streak ended abruptly Friday night after No. 19 Duke’s 2-0 victory.
The Panthers (6-6-0 overall, 1-4-0 ACC) fell to the Blue Devils (9-2-1 overall, 3-2-0 ACC) after Pitt’s mistakes gave Duke too many opportunities.
“The game started one way that wasn’t our way,” Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich said. “We were on our heels, and I think that’s growing pains. We’re gonna have to start learning that we belong with top teams and that we can’t be nervous about other teams’ reputations.”
The Blue Devils outshot the Panthers 16 to eight and had eight shots on goal compared to the Panthers’ four. The fouls were almost even between the teams with Pitt at 15 and the Blue Devils at 16.
While Pitt took the first shot of the game, it was the Blue Devils who secured an early lead. Duke senior midfielder Brian White capitalized on a defensive mistake by Pitt senior defender Bryce Cregan. White intercepted Cregan’s back pass to redshirt sophomore goalie Mikal Outcalt and powered in a shot for a 1-0 lead.
Duke sophomore midfielder Suniel Veerakone also had a good first half for the Blue Devils, drilling two shots at the goal. His first forced Outcalt to dive to his right for a save, and his second flew just over the net.
Only Pitt senior defender Mauriq Hill had a couple of serious chances to score in the first half. Hill headed his first shot too high over the net and sent his second shot too wide of the goal. The half ended with a yellow card for Hill after the officials determined Hill had too much contact with White after the whistle.
The second half opened with the game still in Duke’s favor, 1-0. However, the play was much slower than in the first half. While both teams took multiple shots, there were more fouls than shots. Pitt accrued three fouls and a yellow card by the 54th minute, and the Blue Devils also recorded three fouls in the same amount of time.
While the Panthers took every goal opportunity available, their efforts were unsuccessful. Pitt took a hit in the 70th minute when senior defender Pol Planellas’ earned a red card for a misplaced cleat.
“We started getting chances, and when we went down a man, we still had the game going forward,” Cregan said. “I thought we did well with that.”
Even while being down a man, the Panthers held the Blue Devils at 1-0 until the final minute of the game. The Panthers gave Duke senior midfielder Cameron Moseley too much space, and he scored with 22 seconds remaining to end the game 2-0.
“It’s been such a turnaround,” Vidovich said. “We’ll get ready for what we know about Penn State and almost start preparing for Notre Dame at the same time because as soon as you finish with Penn State, we’ll be going up on a bus to Notre Dame.”
The Panthers face two rivals next week, playing Penn State Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Ambrose Urbanic Field and then No. 9 Notre Dame Friday, Oct. 13, in Indiana.