Men’s Soccer: Pitt ties Syracuse, goalless for third straight game

By Greg Trietley

The Pitt men’s soccer team struggled to capitalize on scoring chances once again, and the… The Pitt men’s soccer team struggled to capitalize on scoring chances once again, and the Panthers traveled back to campus from Syracuse this weekend without a win for the third straight game.

But this winless trip was a little more personal for one Panther. Pitt’s Ryan Brode and his younger brother, Syracuse’s Mark Brode, combined for six shots. Yet neither they nor anyone else could find the back of the net Saturday night, as the Panthers and the Orange tied, 0-0, at SU Soccer Stadium.

“The first thing [Ryan] said to me following the game was that [Pitt] should have won 3-0,” Mark Brode said. “I’m sure the smack talk will go on forever about this game.”

Paced by the elder Brode’s season-high five shots, Pitt outshot the Orange 22-9, but head coach Joe Luxbacher expressed his dissatisfaction with another goalless outing.

“We missed three or four or five right in front that would have sealed it,” Luxbacher said. “We wanted three points [in the standings] and we only got one.”

Pitt hasn’t scored since its five-goal outburst against St. Joseph’s on Sept. 12. Luxbacher couldn’t attribute the lack of scoring to any one factor.

“We waited a split second too long to pull the trigger, or it was blocked, or one thing or the other,” he said.

Ryan Brode came the closest to scoring for Pitt when his shot in the 60th minute ricocheted off the crossbar. Pitt senior Terry Boland had a breakaway in the dying minutes of the second overtime, but Syracuse goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo challenged and made a sliding stop.

Vuolo kept the Orange in the game, tying a career-high nine saves.

Mark Brode had a chance to stun the Panthers 15 seconds into the game and put Syracuse ahead, but Pitt goalkeeper Hami Kara made the stop on his shot. Nonetheless, the Brode brothers enjoyed the chance to play against each other in a college match.

“Growing up we’ve always been competitive so it was great to compete against each other on a big stage,” Ryan Brode said. “In the offseason, we train together every day, but this is the first time we’ve ever played against each other. So it was a very exciting experience.”

“It was an awesome experience playing against [Ryan] because we’ve never really taken each other on before,” Mark Brode said. “Of course there was a ton of joking around and smack talk coming into the game. Usually when I talk to my brother on the phone during the season it’s about how our teams are doing and the formations we play, but the week leading up to the big game, we couldn’t reveal much.”

With the draw, Pitt moved to 4-2-1 overall on the season, while Syracuse improved to 1-4-2. The game Saturday kicked off the Big East schedule for both teams.

“I expected a tough game,” Luxbacher said. “I didn’t expect us to control the game as much as we did. I thought it would be a tighter game that way.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Pitt handled the Orange attack. Kara had to make just two saves, both in the game’s first 25 minutes, for his fourth shutout of the season. His goals-against average dropped to 0.68.

Although the result in the conference opener might not clearly show it, Pitt has a team that can compete in the Big East if it can bury its chances, Luxbacher said.

“I can’t imagine we’re not going to start putting some of those in,” Luxbacher said. “We had the better of the play, no doubt. That was even the case last weekend. Obviously you’ve got to start sinking them, but I’d be more concerned if we were hanging on for dear life in those games, and it was nothing like that.”

The schedule provides little time for rest after Saturday’s 110-minute double-overtime draw. Pitt plays tomorrow against the Howard Bison at 7 p.m. at Founders Field. Howard is 1-8 on the year and has surrendered 28 goals against.

Despite the short turnaround, Luxbacher isn’t worried about fatigue.

“We have capable guys who can step in and do a job [off the bench],” Luxbacher said. “We’ll probably use more players against Howard than we did [against Syracuse], not just because we played overtime [Saturday] but also because we have to play Seton Hall two days later.”

Still, Pitt’s busy schedule packs three games — two outside of Pennsylvania — into seven days.

“Technically, Monday is an off-day,” Luxbacher said. “We won’t have that because we have to get ready for Howard, and then we have to get ready to travel to Seton Hall on Friday.”

With Howard Wednesday and Big East play looming, Luxbacher knows that Pitt must turn things around and get back on track.

“Every game is a new game,” he said. “We need a good, solid effort Wednesday and hope we get a win and then go from there.”