Lynd, team look to build on shutout in season opener

Lynd, team look to build on shutout in season opener

By Mark Powell / Staff Writer

Goalkeeper Dan Lynd knows the momentum swing a shutout can provide.

After Lynd, a junior, blanked Presbyterian Saturday, he and the rest of the Pitt men’s soccer team look to improve upon their impressive regular season opener as they travel to Virginia to take on William and Mary and Longwood in their first road contests of the season.

Pitt, which beat Presbyterian 3-0 in its home opener, will look to extend its winning streak to two games — a feat it never achieved during last year’s disappointing campaign.

The Panthers blew by the opposition, putting up record numbers offensively in the process. Pitt recorded 23 shots and 18 corner kicks overall, and Lynd stalled the Blue Hose for a clean sheet and his first career win as a Panther.

“Knowing that we’re not conceding is really important just for confidence,” Lynd said. “We’re looking to go 3-0 into the ACC and to pick up two wins this weekend.”

While the Panthers’ performance was impressive, they will face a different level of competition when they travel to Williamsburg.

The William and Mary Tribe are coming off of a successful 11-5-3 season, in which they made the NCAA tournament out of the Colonial Athletic Association and held impressive victories over Pitt and fellow ACC member North Carolina.

The Tribe return their two leading scorers from last season in senior Chris Albiston and junior Jackson Eskay, who combined for 37 points last season. Albiston is already off to a hot start this year, with three points and eight shots through two games, in which William and Mary went 1-1.

Head coach Joe Luxbacher referenced the Panthers’ last game as a step in the right direction but also said they became complacent in the second half and would have to play a more complete game against higher level competition.

“We’ve got to play 90 minutes, that’s it, not 70 good minutes,” Luxbacher said. “If you have a couple bad minutes, that can determine a game.”

In their meeting last season in Pittsburgh, the Tribe shut the Panthers out 2-0. William and Mary outshot Pitt 12-7 and forced Lynd to make four saves.

The loss came during a difficult stretch for Pitt last season, as they had yet to record a win through 11 games.  

However, the Panthers believe this year’s team is different, as the mix of returning starters and new talent has them incorporating a more confident, possession-based style of play.

“Last year, I felt like we hadn’t played as well as we could and we were coming off a couple defeats,” senior midfielder Michael Tuohy said. “I genuinely believe that if we play the way we can that we can be a difficult opponent for any team.”

Friday’s contest against William and Mary and Sunday’s game at Longwood will be Pitt’s first true road games of the season. It played at Saint Francis during the exhibition season, losing 2-0.

The Panthers haven’t had much success on the road the last few seasons, as they haven’t won a game away from Ambrose Urbanic Field since beating Duquesne 2-1 in 2012.

Luxbacher said he recognizes the difficulties of playing on the road as a college athlete. While the coaching staff tries to fill time with walk-throughs and film sessions, there is still a large amount of down time.

“It’s a different schedule than they’re used to at home,” Luxbacher said. “On the road you’re sitting around a lot.”

The Panthers will attempt to exorcise their road demons this weekend against the Tribe and Longwood, both of which they were unable to defeat at home last season.