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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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Pitt men’s soccer continue disappointing start, fall to No. 2 Marshall 3-1

Players+compete+for+a+header+during+Tuesday+night%E2%80%99s+match.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Players compete for a header during Tuesday night’s match.

Pitt men’s soccer (1-2-1, 0-0-0 ACC) looked to upset No. 2 Marshall (4-0-0, 0-0-0 SBC) in a prime time showdown at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Tuesday night. In spite of Pitt’s best efforts, Pitt dropped the matchup 3-1.

A little more than a year ago, the then No. 11 Thundering Herd shocked the No. 2 Panthers 2-1 in Huntington, West Virginia.

This year the roles were reversed, as No. 2 Marshall traveled to Pittsburgh, staring down a packed Ambrose Urbanic Field and the now unranked Panthers. The reloaded Pitt squad looked to overcome its inexperience and defend their home against a well-established Thundering Herd.

Some problems stayed the same. Last season, then Marshall first-year striker Matthew Bell scored both Marshall goals. Even though the Panthers kept now sophomore Bell out of the net, he still recorded three assists on the night.

Pitt struggled, even though some new faces delivered for the Panthers. Two new players, Temple transfer junior midfielder Luka Kozomara and first-year forward Albert Thorsen, combined for eight shots.

Despite the slow start to the season for the Panthers, Kozomara’s play has impressed in Pitt’s first four games. Currently, he leads the Panthers with three goals.

“It’s nice to score,” Kozomara said. “But in the end, nothing really counts. It doesn’t matter who scores or who assists. The main thing is to win.”

In his first year starting, sophomore goaltender Cabral Carter remained poised on Tuesday night as he gave the best performance in his young career, recording a career high in saves.

Marshall’s ability to capitalize on chances truly separated them from the Panthers. Marshall shot eight times on goal. Comparatively, Pitt shot on goal just four times, while recording 18 total shots. 

“They were clinical on their attack,” Kosomara said. “That was the difference maker.”

Panthers head coach Jay Vidovich was disappointed with the missed opportunities. Vidovich said this was a problem for the Panthers in previous games, as well. 

“I think we missed a couple goals standing,” Vidovich said. “And then, same thing as last game, we get punished.”

During the opening five minutes, each team took their time feeling the other out with a flurry of possession changes. Sophomore defenseman Jackson Gilman stood out defensively, intercepting a multitude of crosses.

The Panthers recorded the first shot in the sixth minute of play. After denying Marshall, Pitt responded with a scoring chance of their own, as sophomore forward Eben McIntyre had his shot from the box blocked.

Marshall shot first in the thirteenth minute. Pitt returned the favor and blocked junior forward Alvaro Garcia-Pascual’s opportunity.

Pitt answered back in the 14th minute with one of the best chances of the game. Senior midfielder Guilherme Feitosa skillfully got past a defender, passed it through to McIntyre, who left the ball for an open Thorsen. To the dismay of the home crowd, Thorsen’s shot missed to the right. 

Due to the 90-degree heat beating down on fans and players alike, the game stopped for a three-minute hydration break in the 26th minute.

Right out of the break, the Thundering Herd scored the first goal of the match. Bell skillfully sliced through the Panther defense and made a perfect pass to Garcia-Pascual. Carter never stood a chance, as Garcia-Pascual quickly buried the close-range shot.

Soon after, Carter made a diving save on Marshall’s sophomore midfielder Marco Silva, knocking the ball out of bounds. The Panther defense stood strong, defending the two subsequent corners.

In the 36th minute Pitt made a variety of substitutions. Notably, first-year forward Massimo Murania replaced an injured Feitosa and Kozomara came in for McIntyre.

Despite the unbearable heat and key injury, the Panthers kept fighting. They finally broke through in the 38th minute, as Kozomara leveled the game at one apiece off a crafty setup by Thorsen.

Marshall’s Bell started the second half off with a quick shot that Carter saved easily. The Panthers continued pressing, forcing a turnover by Marshall’s net. Kozomara missed the crucial opportunity this time around.

Pitt became more physical as the half went on, recording three fouls in three minutes. Most significantly, junior defender Mateo Maillefaud received Pitt’s first yellow card in the 48th minute.

The Panthers correspondingly intensified their attack on net, creating three elite scoring chances in quick succession. Marshall ended the threat by thwarting a dangerous cross by star midfielder Filip Mirkovic.

Mirkovic fed off the crowd’s energy, signaling for the Panther faithful to ramp up the volume. This led to another set of scoring chances, as Mirkovic whizzed a shot just high, further exciting the crowd.

Following a solid defensive effort from Pitt, Marshall reclaimed the lead. Senior forward Adam Aoumaich’s shot ricocheted off a Panther and into the net, killing Pitt’s momentum.

The Thundering Herd quickly pounced again, as Silva capitalized on turnover to make the score 3-1 in the 70th minute.

With a commanding two-goal lead, Marshall poured it on, completely silencing the Pitt offense for the final 20 minutes.

Despite the loss, reason for optimism remains. In some key moments, the Panthers outplayed one of the best teams in the nation.

“I was very happy with the responses,” Vidovich said. “The response to giving up a goal, the response to losing Guilherme to injury.”

Pitt takes the field next Saturday against No. 9 Wake Forest at Ambrose Urbanic Field at 7:00 p.m. Coverage will air on ACCNX.

About the Contributor
Alex Porter, Staff Writer