The Pitt men’s soccer team ended its preseason on a high note, beating Duquesne in its final scrimmage.
The 2-0 win on Sunday was the Panthers’ second victory in a row before their regular season opener, having beaten California University (Pa.) 3-0 last Wednesday after losing to Saint Francis (Pa.) 2-0 on Aug. 17.
“This was our most solid 90-minute performance of the preseason,” head coach Joe Luxbacher said. “It was a good result.”
Although Duquesne is only two miles from Pitt’s campus, this was only the 10th time the two programs have met, with the Panthers winning eight of the 10 games. They last met during the regular season in 2012, a game Pitt won 2-1.
Freshman forward Kevin Angulo’s play highlighted the first half of the 2014 meeting. Angulo scored the first goals of his college career during the 33rd and 34th minutes of the game.
Angulo’s first tally came on an unassisted breakaway after he outran two Duquesne defenders through the center of the field, while the second was set up by an impressive cross from freshman forward Hamish Law.
“I came into the preseason trying to work hard, so it was great,” Angulo said. “They were great balls from the midfielders.”
For the second consecutive game, the Panthers went with a 4-3-3 formation — four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards — to control the flow of the game.
As a team, Pitt outshot Duquesne 6-1 in the first half, continuing the offensive dominance they showed in their previous scrimmage against Cal U and a far cry from their stagnant play against Saint Francis.
“It was important we got off to a good start, because Duquesne is a solid team,” Luxbacher said.
The two goals in the first half were the only ones the Panthers scored in the first 45 minutes of play this preseason.
The second half was more of the same for the Panthers, as they won the possession battle and gave Duquesne little chance to get back into the game.
The offensive opportunities were limited for both teams, as Pitt was content with their lead. However, Luxbacher warned that sitting on leads would be dangerous against ACC competition.
Goalkeepers Dan Lynd and Braden Horton combined for their second consecutive clean sheet and the defense looked confident under pressure in the rare chances the Dukes had at goal.
“The coaching staff stressed communication in practice this offseason,” Lynd, a junior, said. “Any time you can get two clean sheets against two good teams, you have to be confident.”
Duquesne had very few chances throughout the game, as the Panthers were able to outshoot them 9-3.
While the Panthers struggled last season, their defense was a strength. With the return of multiple starters, experience in the back line will benefit them this season.
Although the competition level is not as high during preseason scrimmages, the Panthers’ offensive outbursts appear promising. But for a team that went 1-11-4 last season, the focus is on the games to come.
“All this is nice,” Luxbacher said. “But next week is when it counts.”
The Panthers will open the regular season at home against the Presbyterian College Blue Hose of the Big South conference on Aug. 30.