Panthers attempt to break three game scoreless streak


By Mark Powell / Staff Writer

Considering how the Pitt men’s soccer team’s season has gone so far, the team’s last game, which ended in a scoreless tie,would be considered a positive result.

After a tie on the road against Virginia Tech, Pitt will try to put together another impressive performance at home, this time against a non-conference opponent.

In a battle of Panthers, Pitt will take on High Point (6-5-1, 3-1-0 Big South) in its final non-conference game of the season.

In its last outing, Pitt outplayed ACC opponent Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, registering more than 20 shots on goal and nearly putting itself ahead for the team’s first conference victory of the season.

However, the Panthers could not put the ball in the back of the net for the third straight game. The lack of scoring is a matter of quality rather than quantity. While Pitt has put itself in position to score in the last several games, it has not converted in the final third of the field.

“We dominated the game … we had 21 shots and 17 corner kicks,” head coach Joe Luxbacher said. “Their keeper made some big saves, and we did miss some or shot balls right into the keeper.”

Pitt has had moderate success against teams that failed to make the NCAA tournament last year. Overall, the team has gone 3-3-2 outside of the ACC, compared to its 0-4-2 record in conference.

Two of Pitt’s non-conference victories came early in the season against Longwood and Presbyterian. More concerning for Luxbacher and the Panthers, is that their record in their last five games is 0-4-1.

While they got off to a fast start this season, this year is quickly beginning to resemble the last, in which the Panthers faded down the stretch.

High Point could provide a challenge to the struggling Panthers, as it has a respectable record out of the Big South conference. Their only non-conference loss came against West Virginia, which this season is a higher caliber team than Pitt.

Defensively, Pitt will have to stifle High Point’s attacking forward Mamadee Nyepon, who has already tallied nine goals and 19 points on the season.

Pitt’s defense has been solid in the last few games, despite the absence of senior defender Julian Dickenson. If the Panthers continue to be as dominant in their own half as they have in recent games, stopping Nyepon and the rest of High Point’s attack could create more possession for Pitt to manufacture more offensive opportunities.

“The main thing is we didn’t take a lot of chances and we were very clean in the back,” redshirt junior defender Ryan Myers said of the team’s performance against Virginia Tech. “We didn’t really get countered much that whole game … it allowed our backs to push forward and we didn’t really have too much to worry about defensively except long balls.”

Offensively, Pitt has more problems to fix. Kody Palmer and David Price split time for High Point in net, and they could add to Pitt’s offensive problems Wednesday.

Both Pitt senior forward Dan Prete and Luxbacher stated that the offensive problem hasn’t been the number of opportunities but the accuracy of the shots. Still, both were confident that they could break through against High Point.

“I think it’s just a matter of focus at this point,” Prete said. “We’ve gotten a lot of chances, and our team has actually played really well recently. I think it’s just a matter of getting to get over the hump and then we’ll be good.”