Pitt-Clemson men’s soccer match ends in confusion, draw 1-1


Hannah Wilson | Senior Staff Photographer

Graduate midfielder Lucas Rosa (6) and Valentin Noel (8) celebrate at the Pitt men’s soccer game versus West Virginia Monday night.

By Brian Sherry, Staff Writer

With just eleven seconds remaining, Pitt men’s soccer lined up for a free kick, hoping to score the late game winning goal. But it wasn’t meant to be. The referees blew the final whistle, ending the game in a draw.

Pandemonium broke out, as nobody knew what had happened. Fans, players and coaches all searched for an answer. The Panthers had a chance to take the lead in the waning seconds, but the officials said the clock on the scoreboard wasn’t accurate, according to players after the game.

Senior midfielder Valentin Noel said the final seconds were confusing as a player. 

“They were all in front of the goal [for the free kick],” Noel said. “Then [the ref] said ‘I never stopped the clock, it only stopped on the big screen’. There was a lot of confusion at the end, definitely.”

No. 25 Pitt welcomed the defending National Champions, the No. 23 Clemson Tigers, to Ambrose Urbanic Field on Friday night. After a good deal of offensive inefficiency from both teams and a perplexing finish, the ACC foes ended the game in a 1-1 draw.

Both teams went home unsatisfied. Neither team ultimately notched a win in a pivotal scenario for both programs. Despite the draw, Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich thought his team played well, especially on defense. 

“It was good,” Vidovich said. “From the start of the first whistle, it was competitive. It was tight defensively and guys were working hard. We knew the game plan and stuck with it.”

The first half was littered with missed opportunities for both teams. Clemson and Pitt rattled off seven and five goals, respectively. But only Clemson could capitalize on the abundance of shots, as the Tigers scored a single goal in the 42nd minute. 

Both teams wasted no time making the goalies work. The Panthers pushed up field and nearly forced a shot, but first year keeper Joseph Andema quickly ended any chances of a Pitt goal. Then the Tigers countered Pitt’s aggressive start with a shot of their own, as senior forward Mohamed Seye nearly beat Panther goalie senior Joe van dar Sar to score. 

Van der Sar said the team made an effort at practice to fix many defensive problems, following the team’s disappointing two game skid. 

“As a team, we worked really hard this past week to sort out some things we noticed in the past games,” van der Sar said. “There were too many goals we were giving up in unnecessary situations. We went back to what we did well in the first couple games, where we had a couple shutouts.”

Pitt continued to play aggressively throughout the first half. But the Panthers’ physicality almost cost them, as the team accumulated two yellow cards in the period. Clemson ultimately could not capitalize on the Panthers’ sloppy play. 

Accuracy was an issue for both teams early. The Panthers pushed down field in the 10th minute, allowing graduate student midfielder Rodrigo Almeida to take an open shot. But Almeida couldn’t find the back of the net, missing just left of the goal. Seye also had another opportunity to score for the Tigers, but once again missed. 

The Tigers nearly put the Panthers on the ropes in the 18th minute, rattling off two quick shots. But Clemson’s woes continued, as the team missed both opportunities and allowed Pitt to take a goal kick. 

Pitt junior forward Bertin Jacquesson had a great opportunity to score on a free kick in the 26th minute. The junior forward fired a shot to the top right side of the goal, but Andema reached up to block the ball away. Jacquesson fielded the rebound and fired another shot, but Andema thwarted the junior’s attempt. 

But Clemson finally capitalized right before the end of the half. Following a corner kick, redshirt first year Adam Lundegard found the back of the net to put the Tigers up 1-0. The Panthers couldn’t strike back before the end of the half and went into the locker room down one. 

The Panthers looked re-energized coming into the second half, despite the deficit. Noel fired a shot in the 47th minute, but Andema once again prevented a Panther goal. 

But Noel had another opportunity to score in the 50th minute — and this time he didn’t miss. The French midfielder snuck a shot past Andema and found the bottom left corner of the goal to even the score at one apiece. 

Vidovich said he was impressed with Noel’s performance against the Tigers. 

“He’s important to everything,” Vidovich said. “What he read defensively tonight has worked great. He’s helping us gain space on the field. And that finisher, whenever he’s lurking in the box, he can strike at any moment.”

The Tigers didn’t have any luck answering the Panthers’ goal. First year midfielder Nathan Richmond attempted to regain the Tiger lead in the 57th minute, blasting a shot towards the top left side of the goal, but van der Sar jumped up to block the shot away. Richmond took another shot a minute later, but failed again to score. 

Frustration began to set in for both teams, leading to more unnecessary fouls. Both Lundegard and Pitt sophomore midfielder Michael Sullivan received yellow cards for a collision in the 69th minute. Pitt received another yellow card just 17 seconds later for an illegal tackle from graduate student defenseman Lucas Rosa. 

Like the Tigers, Pitt missed several opportunities and just couldn’t quite get the upper hand. Sullivan nearly scored off a Pitt breakaway, but Andema came up big and stopped the surefire goal. 

Pitt needs to recover quickly, as they have a matchup against No. 10 Denver on Monday. The match will start at 7 p.m. at Ambrose Urbanic Field. Coverage will air on ACCNX.