Offense hard to come by for Pitt in conference-opening defeat

By Mark Powell / Staff Writer

Pitt men’s soccer couldn’t pull off the upset against third-ranked North Carolina, as they lost 3-0 in its first ACC game of the year.

Pitt began the game on Friday night in their usual 4-3-3 formation, but at times appeared to drop back into a 4-5-1 to contain North Carolina’s  powerful attack, leaving forward Patrick Dixon up top to take on multiple defenders by himself.

The defensively focused formation is meant to contain balls kicked into the 18-yard box and lead to counterattacking when the opportunity presents itself.

The Panthers had a few opportunities to shock the Tar Heels early on, as Ryan Myers created multiple chances from the back. Unfortunately for Pitt, they were unable to execute in the box, often leaving the UNC goalkeeper untested.

The Panthers (2-2) were able to stifle the Tar Heels for 42 minutes in the first half before freshman Alan Winn scored off a gorgeous spin, beating Dan Lynd in the bottom corner.

Still, the second half began with a jolt, as Myers lifted a ball into the box towards Raj Kahlon, who attempted a combination play with the other Panthers who joined him in the 18 yard box, but they were unable to convert.

The rest of the second half was remarkably similar to the William & Mary game, in which Pitt played at a high level but couldn’t get out of their own way and paid the price with a lopsided score line. Defensive miscues in the midfield and defense gave the Tar Heels many opportunities at goal, and it wasn’t long until they converted.

Nyambi Jabang scored in the 69th minute, dribbling past two Pitt defenders and chipping the ball just under the crossbar to make it 2-0. The Tar Heels scored their third goal just minutes later off of a botched clear attempt by the Panthers, and there was very little Dan Lynd could do as UNC defender Jonathan Campbell scored the final goal of the game.

This was the Panther’s latest failed attempt at beating a ranked opponent; their last win against a team in the polls came against Rutgers in 2008.

Pitt begins a three game home-stand on Wednesday against Lafayette at Ambrose Urbanic Field.