Pitt looks to build on disappointing year


By Mark Powell / Staff Writer

After a second straight disappointing season, in which they failed to win a conference game, coach Joe Luxbacher and the Pitt men’s soccer team face the challenge of rebuilding.

The Panthers finished the regular season with a record of 4-9-4, while also suffering another winless conference campaign. While their record slightly improved from last season, based on the high hopes Pitt had coming into the season, it is adequate to look at this season as a disappointment.

“I think, overall, it’s fair to say that it was a disappointing season because we didn’t get the results that we wanted,” goalkeeper Dan Lynd said. “But, at the same time, I think there are a lot of positive things we can take from it. I think the main thing is how close we were, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how close you were if you didn’t get the results.”

Pitt’s season was highlighted by its inconsistencies on offense, but also by its poor play against the highest level of competition in the ACC.

The Panthers opened the season with an impressive 3-0 win over Presbyterian, leaving many to believe that their offensive woes may be behind them. However, a midseason slump cost Pitt their position in the standings, as they lost and drew several winnable games against inferior competition, such as a loss to Howard and a tie against Niagara, both of which occurred on their home field.

Returning forward Patrick Dixon will likely have something to say about Pitt’s offense moving into next season. Having transferred from Australia just a year ago, Dixon obviously needed time to adjust to the ACC style of play.

“We put together some good efforts and almost won a couple games here and there. Overall, I thought it was very positive and a good basis to work on for next year,” Dixon said.

Pitt showed promise in several games this year, most notably against conference opponents Virginia Tech and Clemson, drawing against both. While these teams may not be at the top of the conference, they still represent strides toward the goal the Panthers are still trying to reach: winning their first game as a member of the ACC.

“We are trying to overtake a number of teams that are annually ranked in the National Top 10, so even though we were a better team, it did not necessarily show in our win/loss results,” Luxbacher said. “While we did improve as a team, we are still not at the level we are striving to achieve, and that will be our goal going forward — to turn tough losses into significant victories.”

Even with some reason for optimism, Luxbacher and the Panthers will have to focus on the tough task of rebuilding with the loss of several important seniors.

Defensively, Pitt will have to replace both Ryan Myers and Julian Dickenson. Myers played a crucial role in moving forward from his right back position. Dickenson, on the other hand, started games at center back in all four of his seasons with the Panthers.

Despite the loss of defensive starters, Pitt will have its goalkeeper back for a fourth season, as team captain Lynd returns. Despite it being his senior season, he does not see a dramatic change in his role on the team.

“I don’t think my role will change all too much,” Lynd said. “I was a captain this year, and that was a big honor. Everyone needs to step up and be a leader … but I don’t think it really will change that much.”

Replacing defensive starters will be one of the toughest challenges for the Pitt coaches, but they remain optimistic about their prospects for the future.

“We have a solid core group of players returning, even though we will still be a young team, and added to that group will be a talented recruiting class,” Luxbacher said. “We have a good group of men who are willing to invest their time and efforts towards achieving one common goal — fielding one of the more elite teams in Division I soccer. That’s our plan.”