Dexter’s lone goal lifts Pitt past Zips

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Dexter’s lone goal lifts Pitt past Zips

Junior forward Alexander Dexter (1) scored the only goal of the night during Pitt’s 1-0 victory over Akron.

Junior forward Alexander Dexter (1) scored the only goal of the night during Pitt’s 1-0 victory over Akron.

Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Junior forward Alexander Dexter (1) scored the only goal of the night during Pitt’s 1-0 victory over Akron.

Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Junior forward Alexander Dexter (1) scored the only goal of the night during Pitt’s 1-0 victory over Akron.

By Elliott Borawski, Staff Writer

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It was a beautiful Monday night at Ambrose Urbanic Field, where the Pitt men’s soccer team looked to bounce back from its loss to No. 1 Wake Forest against the Akron Zips. Despite thoroughly outplaying Akron throughout the contest, it took a 74th-minute strike off the left foot of junior forward Alexander Dexter for Pitt to finally gain the upper hand in a 1-0 victory.

“Like Coach always says, we have to win the ball first. Defense initiates offense,” Dexter said. “Our team has been working on pressing the right ways all season. It showed this game. Finally, our chance came and we had numbers in the box.”

Defense was certainly the key for Pitt in this shutout win — the Panthers allowed just six shots on the night while the offense put forth 18 on the other end. Akron fell to 0-5 with the loss.

Pitt controlled the pace throughout the first half, with seven shots and three on goal — compared to one shot on goal from a free kick for the Zips. Pitt had several chances to score early, but simply could not cash in.

Among Pitt’s early opportunities, senior midfielder Braden Kline put up two shots that were both on goal. One came off a free kick setup that was blocked by the knees of redshirt junior goalkeeper Tor Saunders in the 13th minute.

Sophomore midfielder Rodrigo Almeida saw his shot deflected near the box but still saved by Saunders in the 28th minute. Junior forward Edward Kizza alone accounted for three shots in the first half. All three shots went wide despite being set up by quality passes, with one going over the net and one to the side. Kizza fired another one over the goal right before time expired in the first half to preserve the scoreless tie.

At halftime, head coach Jay Vidovich encouraged his players to keep the pressure on their opponent, noting that they were on the brink of taking the lead.

“We did a lot of good work but we hadn’t gotten any payoffs for getting into some dangerous spots,” Vidovich said. “[I told them] stay patient, keep pushing defensively, keep turning them over and finding some good spots to finally find our goal.”

The Panthers kept fighting when things did not go their way, including a shot from Kline that hit the crossbar in the 64th minute. Akron had chances to score in the 68th and 72nd minutes, but both came up empty. Pitt redshirt junior goalkeeper Arie Ammann saved both shots with the second one coming in diving fashion.

The Panthers remained patient and finally found their stride in the 74th minute with a goal from Dexter. It came in the form of a left-legged strike that hit the corner of the net, giving him his first goal of the season.

Pitt kept the pressure on after scoring its first goal, with more shots on the net from first-year forward Josh Hesson and redshirt sophomore midfielder Chad Stout. Junior defender Sito Sena also fired another shot that hit the crossbar.

While the Zips were given one more opportunity at the end of the game, it was put to rest when Ammann caught a pop-up ball to seal the win.

The Panthers finished the game with 18 shots and seven on goal. Akron managed four shots on goal, but could not keep the ball in Pitt’s zone for the majority of the game, only shooting the ball six times.

Pitt now improves to 2-3-1 on the season and looks to improve that mark further when they travel to Newtown, Massachusetts, Friday at 5 p.m. to face off against Boston College.

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