Men’s soccer: Pitt falls to Cleveland State

By Greg Trietley

If recent games are any indication, fans should prepare for overtime when the Pitt men’s… If recent games are any indication, fans should prepare for overtime when the Pitt men’s soccer team returns to Ambrose Urbanic Field to face the Seton Hall Pirates Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Panthers (3-7-1) pulled out their most dramatic victory this season when they defeated Syracuse 2-1 in double overtime last Saturday, but the team followed up the win with a 1-0 overtime loss Wednesday to the Cleveland State Vikings (4-6-1).

Senior midfielder Sam Luffy said after the defeat that the team took a step back from the improvements it made on the attacking side of the ball against the Orange.

“We haven’t been scoring goals,” Luffy said. “I thought we kind of solved that against Syracuse, but tonight we didn’t get any. We have to find ways to score goals. It’s been our problem all season.”

Pitt has scored nine goals in 11 games this year.

Seton Hall (4-5-2) has had the opposite problem: It can’t stop the other team’s attack. The Princeton Tigers, who had lost four consecutive games, defeated the Pirates 7-3 on Tuesday.

The Pirates have allowed 10 goals over the past two games, and they are last in the Big East with a 1.82 goals-against average.

Forward Max Garcia, who leads Seton Hall with four goals this year, sat out the game against Princeton to serve an automatic one-game suspension brought on by a red card that he received in a 3-0 loss to Villanova last week.

Anthony Reichwaldt had a goal and an assist in Garcia’s absence. The sophomore started five games in goal earlier this year, but he recently moved to forward — a move that paid off against the Tigers.

Sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Bonder relieved starter Mario DeClerico in both the Villanova and Princeton losses.Meanwhile, Pitt freshman Lee Johnston has been strong in goal despite the team’s struggles on offense. Johnston made four saves, including one in overtime, against Cleveland State.

The Panthers had an early chance to take control against the Vikings, but defender Justin Mancine turned away Luffy’s shot at the goal line in the 10th minute to keep the game scoreless.

That would be Pitt’s best chance all evening. Although the Panthers out-cornered the Vikings 9-2, goalkeeper Brad Stuver did not have to record a save to earn the victory.

Pitt head coach Joe Luxbacher said that the team has to be less selective in its shots in order to generate more chances.“I’ve been harping on the guys all year about this,” Luxbacher said Wednesday. “We don’t take shots when they’re there. You don’t have to have a perfect chance. You need a half-chance, because stuff happens. You take a shot, you get a deflection, who knows.”

Cleveland forward Jordan Hart’s golden goal in the 95th minute came in such a manner. Sophomore defender Zach Ellis-Hayden sent a cross into the box that a cluster of Pitt defenders cleared, but the ball went straight to Hart, who snuck a shot inside the post to win the game.

It was Hart’s second goal of the season.

“It’s unfortunate,” Luffy said. “They got a lucky bounce there at the end and put it away. We had chances that we didn’t put away. It happens.”

The tally capped 15 minutes of strong offensive pressure from Cleveland State, which swung momentum in its favor late in regulation. In the 85th minute, Cleveland junior forward Aaron Adkins chipped the ball over Johnston to the left of the goal, but Pitt defender Robert Iledare backed up his keeper and kicked away the ball at the line.

The teams finished even in shots, 12-12.

“We played well throughout the entire game,” senior defender Shane Flowers said after the loss. “I think we just attacked really hard and just wore ourselves down.”