Werth’s second half goal less to tie with Wolfpack


By Mark Powell / Staff Writer

In its second ACC game of the season, Pitt men’s soccer came from behind to draw against NC State.

Forward Cory Werth tied the game in the second half off a post rebound that found its way to his right foot. The goal was his first of the season and saved the Panthers (2-2-2, 0-1-1) ACC) from a second consecutive year of starting 0-2 in conference play.

“You definitely want to win, but I feel like we took a big step forward today,” coach Joe Luxbacher said. “We played a complete game.”

The goal came after a frustrating first half for Pitt, during which it clearly had more chances to score but still found themselves down at the break.

The Panthers spent the first 20 minutes on the ball, showing attacking prowess. But, in the 20th minute, NC State (3-2-2 overall, 1-1-1 ACC) responded on the counterattack, maneuvering its way into the box and earning a penalty.

There was little doubt about the severity of the foul, as defender Stephane Pierre received a yellow card. Michael Bajza blasted the penalty into the far corner, giving the Wolfpack a 1-0 lead, despite being outshot to that point 4-1.

“In every game there’s going to be momentum shifts,” defender Ryan Myers said. “There was about a five-, seven-minute gap where we dropped off and were defending our line … They slipped one through, and that can’t happen.”

Pitt’s best opportunities in the first half came off of set pieces when Myers and Michael Tuohy hit free kicks around the wall formed by the NC State defenders. But Wolfpack goalkeeper Alex McCauely, who entered the game as the leader in saves in the ACC with 26, saved their shots.

Tuohy’s kick went low and to the left of the goal, while Myers curled the ball over the wall and towards the far post.

Raj Kahlon and Kevin Murray both had opportunities to score from corner kicks by Myers, but neither could convert. Pitt ended the half having outshot NC State 7-4, but still with nothing to show for it.

The Panthers were stagnant in the beginning of the second half, resulting in several non-threatening shots until Werth dramatically found the back of the net in the 70th minute.

“Darcy [Bloemen] volleyed it right out of the air, it hit the post and came off the goalie. I just happened to be standing right there, and I just finished the easy tap-in goal,” Werth said. “I’ll take them however I can get them. Someone’s got to be there in those kinds of situations,”

The goal ensured that neither team would be shut out, ending a streak of 14 consecutive games in which both Pitt and its opponent had failed to score a goal, and ended its season-worst 295-minute scoreless streak.

NC State responded well after giving up the game-tying goal, forcing Pitt goalkeeper Dan Lynd to make several sprawling saves in the final minutes of regulation.

Both teams came close to getting the go-ahead goal near the end of the second half, but the  score remained even  in regulation, meaning two 10-minute extra time periods to determine the result. 

The Panthers led NC State in shots, 14-11, at the end of regulation — the narrow margin an indication of the equal play between the teams.

The Wolfpack dominated the first overtime period, picking up five shots and hitting the post off a corner in the 100th minute.

By the end of the second 10-minute period, NC State had reversed Pitt’s advantage in shot disparity, offering 19 times at goal compared to the Panthers’ 15 attempts. Still, neither team could score, and the game ended as a tie.

The game was Pitt’s second consecutive draw, with their last coming in disappointing fashion against a sub-par Lafayette side.

The Panthers will end their three-game home stand on Tuesday against Niagara.