Listless performance from Panthers results in 0-0 tie

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Listless performance from Panthers results in 0-0 tie

By Mark Powell / Staff Writer

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Pitt men’s soccer disappointed tonight, looking sloppy and unaware at times, and were unable to score during 110 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Lafayette.

Wednesday night’s game was the first meeting ever between the two schools, despite playing in the same state. 

The result was disappointing for the Panthers, who went into the game expecting to add to their impressive non-conference record this season.

“The big thing is we’re not getting the combination we need in the midfield,” coach Joe Luxbacher said. “We’re a bit too slow with the ball.”

Neither team got off to an especially hot start, as the Panthers and Leopards shared the ball for most of the first half.

Lafayette forward Greg Biggiani had the best chance of the half in the 20th minute, when he split the Pitt defense down the middle. Fortunately for the Panthers (2-2-1), he missed his target, shooting over the crossbar because of a late challenge.

Pitt made two changes in the first half, hoping to insert offense and experience into the lineup. Kevin Murray and Dan Prete made their respective entrances into the game just eight minutes apart, but their impact was not felt in the first 45 minutes.

The Panthers possessed the ball in the offensive half but could not connect in the final third, leading to only a couple modest attempts at goal.

At the end of the half, Lafayette had outshot the Panthers 7-4, and there was little doubt that the Leopards had not made the trip from Easton to roll over for Pitt’s third win of the year.

Lafayette (1-3-2) used its size to its advantage in the first half, the physicality taking Pitt out of its offensive rhythm and making players appear stagnant at times.

“They were definitely a physical team, they were definitely big,” forward Cory Werth said. “Winning the ball in the air is a big part of the game today, and we lost a lot of balls in the air.”

Lafayette picked up where it left off early in the second half, as an early opportunity left Pitt’s defense scrambling to get the ball out of their own half.

Pitt responded with a chance of its own in the 55th minute on a header by Andrew Wright, which was deflected out of play just to the left of the post. 

Minutes later, Pitt appeared to suffer a setback when defender Stephane Pierre fell to the ground with an apparent upper body injury after a collision, but he came back a short while later. 

The injury would have put increased pressure on junior goalkeeper Dan Lynd and left Pitt without both of its starting center backs.

The Panthers’ best opportunity of the game came in the 70th minute when Werth missed wide from inside the box.

In the 78th minute, Hamish Law entered the game for Kevin Murray, hoping to replicate his performance against Longwood, in which he played the role of hero by scoring the lone goal of the match to give Pitt a 1-0 victory.

In the end, neither team could break the tie in regulation, so the game went to extra time. The statistics were fairly even at the end of regulation, the Leopards outshooting the Panthers 14-11.

In college soccer, if a game is not decided in the first 90 minutes, the teams must play two 10-minute sudden-death periods to try and decide a winner. If neither team scores, the contest ends in a tie.

Pitt won the possession battle in the first overtime, producing several chances. Near the end of the period, Panther defender Andrew Wright misplayed a ball in the air, allowing a Lafayette attacker a clear path to the goal. 

However, Pierre came to Pitt’s rescue, as he quickly cut off the lane and cleared the ball to the midfield. 

The second period of extra time was far different from the first, as Lafayette possessed the ball nearly the entire 10 minutes and recorded several shots on goal.

Still, neither team could score, and the game ended in a tie. 

Lynd had a season-high seven saves on the night, as he recorded his fifth shutout as a Panther. 

Despite facing 20 shots on goal, Lynd was not concerned about the back four’s performance.

“I think that number’s pretty deceptive, because the chances they got weren’t all that dangerous,” Lynd said. “I thought we had two guys in spots that they haven’t been at all season, so I think they performed well.”

Pitt hopes to end its 225-minute scoreless streak when it resumes ACC play against N.C. State this Saturday at Ambrose Urbanic Field.

 

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