Thomas Yang | Senior Staff Photographer
Pitt men’s soccer earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament on Monday, marking the Panthers’ second at-large bid in the past two years. Pitt will face the winner of the first-round matchup between Bowling Green and Monmouth on Sunday, May 2, in Greensboro, NC.
Coming off of a strong spring, Pitt finished the season 13-3 overall while boasting a 9-1 record in conference play. The Panthers also managed to secure the ACC Coastal Division title for the first time in school history thanks to their win over Virginia on April 8.
Most of Pitt’s success can be attributed to its overpowered scoring offense. Led by sophomore midfielder and ACC Offensive Player of the Year Valentin Noel, Pitt leads the ACC in scoring, averaging 2.38 goals per game. Furthermore, the Panthers can rely upon all-ACC graduate defensive midfielder Jasper Löeffelsend as their formidable force on the defensive end.
The true mastermind behind Pitt’s recent success is ACC Head Coach of the Year Jay Vidovich. Over the course of his five-year tenure at Pitt, Vidovich has experienced unprecedented success. His 2019 team earned Pitt its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1965, and his 2020 squad advanced all the way to the ACC final.
Interestingly, the Panthers played their season out of order due to COVID-19 restrictions. Pitt played the 2020 ACC tournament in November — midway through the 2021 season — and its two wins in that tournament count as part of the team’s current record.
The ACC determined its automatic bid, on the other hand, by a showdown between the Panthers and ACC Atlantic division winner Clemson. Pitt lost that game 2-0 on Saturday.
Pitt will look to build on its newfound prowess in this year’s NCAA tournament. The Panthers lost to Georgetown in the second round of the 2019 NCAA tournament. Now, it’s time for Pitt to find a breakthrough and continue the progress made during Vidovich’s tenure.