Weekend loss ensures no ACC tournament berth for Panthers


By Mark Powell / Staff Writer

Though it is just a formality at this point, the Pitt men’s soccer team will not make the ACC tournament, as the team sits in last place in the conference standings. The team needed to pick up three points with a win against Duke on Friday, but it could not.

Despite a strong second half, Pitt men’s soccer could not equalize late against Duke, losing 2-1 and keeping the team in the basement of the conference.

The Panthers got off to a slow start against Duke, allowing two goals early in the game. The Blue Devils haven’t been too offensively sound this season, scoring one or less than one goal in each of their last five games before Friday.

The first goal came off a set piece in which Blue Devils defender Markus Fjørtoft got behind his defender and headed a ball past Pitt goalkeeper Dan Lynd. The goal was the first Lynd has given up in the last two games.

The second goal came off a through ball by Brody Huitema, which Jake Butwin put past Lynd for the Blue Devils’ second goal in the first 10 minutes.

Pitt’s defense has been banged up all season, and while this is most likely just a case of injuries catching up to them, it is still concerning that the defensive starters, aside from Julian Dickenson, were unable to stay compact in such a crucial game.

If Pitt were to have any chance of making the ACC tournament, it would need a strong second half to beat the Blue Devils in Durham, N.C.

The Panthers were a very different team in the second half, pushing numbers offensively but still keeping their defense concentrated enough to limit the Blue Devils’ opportunities.

Pitt cut its halftime deficit in half when they scored in the 57th minute, when senior midfielder Dan Prete knocked in midfielder Patrick Dixon’s rebounded shot. The goal should have been a catalyst to the Panthers who hadn’t been able to put together much offensive success to that point.

Surprisingly, Pitt’s combination plays were not working late in the second half, and the team was unable to wear the defense down. Instead, the Panthers went the last 30 minutes of the game without a legitimate shot on goal, and the Panthers found themselves on the wrong end of 2-1 scoreline because of it.

The Panthers needed to find a way to get three points out of the affair in order to attempt to make a move out of last place in the conference, and their inability to score repeatedly prevented that from happening.

Pitt’s last home game will have very little meaning in the standings, but because it is their last game, it will also serve as the soccer program’s senior day. The Panthers will honor five seniors who have stayed with the program all four years.

The game will come against defending national champion Notre Dame on Saturday.