Men’s Soccer: Pitt struggles early

By Greg Trietley

A first half corner kick goal unraveled the Pitt men’s soccer team ( 0-2-0) at Saint Francis,… A first half corner kick goal unraveled the Pitt men’s soccer team ( 0-2-0) at Saint Francis, and the Panthers never recovered, losing 3-0 Monday afternoon in Loretto, Pa.

Wayne Tiller, David Butler and Tobi Iguade scored goals for the Red Flash. St. Francis remains undefeated in early season non-conference play.

Pitt sophomore defender Alex Harrison said that the team hasn’t clicked in regular season play as it did in its exhibition wins over Marshall, 5-1, and California (Pa.), 4-1.

“On the field playing, you do see the game a bit differently at times,” Harrison said after the game. “I think new guys and old, we are not flowing as a team.”

After the Panthers fell to Robert Morris in their first game of the regular season on Aug. 24, Luxbacher said he was particuarly unhappy with the play from some of Pitt’s veteran players. The Panthers are a relatively young team, with only six seniors on the 25 player roster, and the younger athletes will look to the upperclassmen for leadership this season.

“Most disappointing was that some of our, quote, veterans and key guys that we need to play consistently well did not,” Luxbacher said after the loss to Robert Morris. “Those need to be the guys game-in, game-out, we know what we’re going to get. Our returners didn’t play up to snuff tonight.”

Luxbacher said wasn’t pleased with the team’s effort after the loss to St. Francis, either.

“We’ve got to make some changes for the weekend,” he said. “I think we have the makings of a good team. We’ve just got to get sorted out here. We’re playing a lot of new guys.”

Pitt’s roster features one redshirt freshman and nine true freshmen.

Harrisonadded that both the veteran and younger players aren’t performing as well as they did during training.

“Our movement hasn’t been as busy as it should.” he said.

The last time Pitt lost its first two games of the season was 2006-07 when the Panthers fell to Buffalo and Fairfield to open the season. The team finished the year 5-11-2 overall record after falling to St. John’s in the opening round of the Big East Tournament.

Against St. Francis Monday, Tiller’s goal in the 38th minute swung momentum in favor of Saint Francis (1-0-1). A Red Flash corner kick caught the far post to beat senior goalkeeper Hami Kara and give the home team a 1-0 lead. Junior Tiller scored the goal, assisted by freshman Pablo Medina.

“It wasn’t even really a shot on goal. It was a ball served across that somehow got past the near post and went in the far post,” Luxbacher said after the game. “From our angle on the bench, we couldn’t see exactly how it got across, but it did. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Saint Francis outshot Pittin the first half 10-3, but Luxbacher said that outside of the goal, the two teams played evenly.

“Quite honestly, until they scored that first goal, which was a questionable goal, they didn’t really have any good chances at all,” Luxbacher said. “They didn’t really get behind us and get any really dangerous chances … They had 10 shots and most were just off goal, and the couple saves [Kara] had were right at him.”Kara finished with three saves.

Senior midfielder Butler scored in the 52nd minute to put Saint Francis up by two. In the 70th minute, officials flagged Pitt freshman Ryan Myers with his second yellow card of the game. His ejection put Pitt down a man for the rest of regulation.

“In the second half, we played much better,” Luxbacher said. “But overall, it wasn’t a good effort. It wasn’t that guys didn’t work hard, but we didn’t connect. Then you give up a questionable goal away from home and things snowball.”

Shortly after Myers’ ejection, sophomore Iguade scored from long distance to put the Red Flash up 3-0. Kara was pulled in the 79th minute for freshman Lee Johnston, who made one save in relief.

“It was a shot from 30 yards that went over our goalkeeper’s head,” Luxbacher said. “He was off his line and it just went over his head. It was a long-range shot. It wasn’t something close.”

Iguade finished with four shots on the afternoon.

Saint Francis outshot the Panthers 16-7 and out- cornered them 8-4. Darius Motazed and Thomas McWilliams each played a half in goal for the Red Flash, splitting four saves for the shutout.

“Certain guys have to carry the load,” Luxbacher said. “We played pretty well in the preseason. We played well at Robert Morris. We just didn’t win. Today we just didn’t get it going. I give Saint Francis credit. They’re pretty good at home. They were ready for us.”