The 2018 Pitt men’s soccer season is well underway as the Panthers played their second game against the Delaware Blue Hens Monday. The game ended in a 6-1 victory as Pitt triumphed over Delaware away from home.
Pitt was aiming to bounce back after it fell 1-0 to No. 25 Colgate in its season opener Friday. Meanwhile, Delaware was also searching for its first win after losing its season opener 1-0 against Villanova Friday.
The game took place at Stuart & Suzanne Grant Stadium in Newark, Delaware, on a balmy late summer’s night. The Panthers started strong with a goal from sophomore forward Edward Kizza only two minutes into the game. Kizza received a through ball from defender Chandler Vaughn and then put it past Delaware senior goalkeeper Todd Morton to take the lead.
The offensive onslaught continued from the Panthers as they dominated possession for the first 15 minutes of the game. An attack from Kizza led to a Pitt penalty eight minutes in, as Morton tripped Kizza while they both charged for the ball. Junior midfielder Javi Perez slotted it home from the penalty spot.
Not long after, a third Pitt goal came as senior defender Robby Dambrot made a run through the middle of the pitch and netted the ball into the bottom right corner past Morton.
Pitt defenders highlighted their team’s dominance in the first half as first-year Chandler Vaughn and sophomore Jose Luis Sena Arbona sent perfectly placed long passes to the Pitt attackers while also shutting down any offensive momentum from the Delaware offense.
The lone offensive chance for the Blue Hens in the first half came 32 minutes in with a cross from senior defender John Schroeder. But Pitt first-year goalkeeper Johan Penaranda — who played for New York City FC and the U.S. National Team in high school — caught the ball in midair before the Delaware striker could get his head on the end of it.
Kizza scored the fourth goal for the Panthers 37 minutes in with a downward headed ball off a cross from Vaughn — again from the Panthers’ strong left flank — that bounced into the top of the net past Morton.
The fifth Pitt goal came only one minute later from redshirt freshman midfielder Fiorre Mane as the Delaware defense collapsed in the wake of the Pitt passing attack.
By halftime, Pitt recorded seven shots to Delaware’s one.
The second half began with junior Robert Campbell producing a glimmer of hope for the Blue Hens, scoring as he shot through traffic in front of Pitt’s net. Kizza crushed that hope only one minute later as he secured his hat trick to secure Pitt’s sixth goal of the night.
Much of the second half took place in the midfield as both sides battled for possession and the Blue Hens pressed much higher than they did in the first half. The higher press resulted in more free kicks in the Panthers’ zone and overall more offensive play from the Blue Hens.
Coach Jay Vidovich kept the Panther team refreshed with constant rotation in midfield and defense throughout the game. First-year defender Nyk Sessock, first-year midfielder Alec Townsend and first-year midfielder Jackson Walti were all substituted in the first half as Pitt ensured Delaware couldn’t pounce on a moment of fatigue.
Overall, Pitt recorded 10 shots to Delaware’s four, with nine shots on goal.
With this win Pitt sees a complete turnaround from the lack of offensive threat seen Friday against Colgate. Quality performances from important players ultimately secured the win, with great displays from striker Kizza and the back line of defense that produced many fruitful offensive plays while also staying steadfast defensively.
Pitt resumes action Saturday against No. 4 Akron. Its first ACC conference game is one week later on Sept. 8 against No. 3 North Carolina.