Preview | No. 10 Pitt men’s soccer set to open ACC play against unranked Tar Heels


TPN File Photo

A soccer ball on Pitt’s Ambrose Urbanic Field.

By David Scott, Staff Writer

After righting the ship in a 5-0 rout of Howard, the No. 10 Panthers are heading to North Carolina to take on the Tar Heels. The matchup against UNC is Pitt’s ACC opener, after which the Panthers will play four ACC opponents in their next five games.

UNC sits at 2-1 on the season and is unranked going into the game against Pitt. The Tar Heels are coming off of a 2-1 loss to Florida International at home on Saturday. UNC has outscored opponents 1.33 goals per game to 1.00 and is getting off 14 shots per game. But only about 40% of those shots are on goal.

Pitt, who is 3-1 on the season, comes into the matchup against UNC with stronger offensive and defensive numbers. The Panthers are scoring 2.75 goals per game and holding their opponents to only 0.75 per game. They are getting off 17.8 shots per game, with 46% being on goal. 

Junior forward Bertin Jacquesson is hot to start the season, having scored goals in three of the four games this season and notched two assists. He leads the Panthers in both categories. He’s shot the ball 13 times this season, with five of those being on goal. He will play an impact against the Tar Heels.

Senior midfielder Valentin Noel is performing well at the start of the season, scoring in each of the first three games of the season and providing an assist in the blowout against Howard. Six of his 10 shots are on goal, with three going for goals. Two of his three goals were game winners.

Graduate midfielder Rodrigo Almeida and forwards Josh Luchini and Luis Sahmkow are driving the offense towards the goal, each providing two assists over the start of the season. They have also combined for five shots on goal. 

Sophomore midfielder Mathys Lefebvre has taken advantage of the limited time he’s gotten on the pitch so far. In just 16 minutes of playing time he has converted his one shot for a goal for a perfect shooting percentage this year.

Senior goalkeeper Joe van der Sar has impressed since winning the starting spot this season. He is 3-1, only allowed .75 goals per game so far, and has already put together two clean sheets in the young 2022 campaign. He has saved 12 of 15 shots on goal.

On the flip side, UNC’s leading scorer, senior Milo Garvanian, has scored in two of the Tar Heels’ three games this season along with notching an assist. No one else on the team has more than one goal or one assist. The UNC goalkeeper, freshman Andrew Cordes, has played well to start the season, only allowing 1.00 goals per game and notching a shutout for a 2-1 record.

Score Prediction: Panthers win 3-1

The Panthers match up well against UNC, who, on paper, doesn’t have the offensive firepower to outscore the Pitt offense. The Tar Heels have only scored four total goals on the season, compared to the Panthers who scored five just in their last game.

Expect the Pitt offense to keep the pressure on the Tar Heels and dial up its offensive firepower. While the Panthers should take control of this game, the Tar Heels will probably slip through and score once to avoid the shutout.

Jacquesson will stay hot, knocking in his fourth goal of the young season and perhaps tallying his third assist as well, Lefebvre will take advantage of another short opportunity and score his second goal of the year, and graduate midfielder Lucas Rosa will find the back of the net again. Van der Sar will continue his strong campaign.

Fans can watch the ACC matchup on ESPN and the ACC Network at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9. No. 10 Pitt will head home to Ambrose Urbanic Field on Friday, Sept. 16, to take on NC State.