Pitt men’s soccer falls to Syracuse 5-0

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Pitt men’s soccer falls to Syracuse 5-0

Senior Patrick Dixon evades a blocker in preparation for a pass.  Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Senior Patrick Dixon evades a blocker in preparation for a pass. Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Senior Patrick Dixon evades a blocker in preparation for a pass. Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

Senior Patrick Dixon evades a blocker in preparation for a pass. Wenhao Wu | Staff Photographer

By Joe Rokicki / Staff Writer

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The Pitt men’s soccer team has not won a conference game — Big East or ACC — in 30 consecutive matches.

The Syracuse Orange (5-2-1, 1-1-1 ACC) shut out Pitt (4-3-1, 0-3 ACC) 5-0 Friday night in Syracuse, New York. The change in competition hit the Panthers hard, as they lost a net total of 24 shots between their last game against the Robert Morris Colonials and this game against the Orange. Pitt beat RMU 1-0 in double overtime for a non-conference win last Tuesday.

“I thought early on we played well. After they got the first goal, it just went downhill,” Pitt head coach Joe Luxbacher said. “We were trying to use some different guys in different spots because of injuries.”

To sum it all up: “We were never in the game,” Luxbacher said.

After the victory over Robert Morris on Sept. 22, Luxbacher discussed the difference in his team’s play between conference and non-conference opponents. Luxbacher said the disparity was a matter of playing with confidence, which was evident in the game against the Orange up until the 36th minute — and no longer.

It was then that Syracuse scored its first goal when junior midfielder Oyvind Alseth launched a ball into the box. Junior forward Ben Polk slid it over to senior forward Noah Rynhart, who buried a shot past Pitt senior goalkeeper and team captain Dan Lynd for a 1-0 Syracuse lead.

The Orange would extend that lead with just 30 seconds left in the first half. Polk nailed a shot in the right corner off a cross from Alseth, and the Panthers trailed by two heading into halftime.

“We started pretty well, we dodged a couple bullets in the beginning, but I still thought we were OK,” Lynd said. “But the goal before halftime broke our back.”

“We were never in the game.”

The Orange poured on the offense in the second half as the crushing ensued.

Polk notched two more goals in the 54th and 57th minute to collect his second and third goals of the season and the game, earning him a hat trick. In all, the Orange tallied three goals in three minutes in the second half to increase their lead to 5-0.

“[Polk’s] a really good player. I don’t know if it was a lack of communication or individual skill, we didn’t do a good job on him,” Lynd said.

Syracuse outshot the Panthers 19-2 in total shots. The Orange also registered 11 shots on goal, while neither of the Panthers’ two shots were on goal. Syracuse’s scheme offered a tough obstacle for a battered Panther defense.

“They played with seven attackers coming at you, and five midfielders is a lot to handle,” Lynd said. “They were just finding gaps.”

Pitt bombared RMU with 26 shots in its last game, leaving Lynd puzzled about the Panthers’ offensive woes.

“I thought we were prepared, it was just one of those games — they were on, we were off,” Lynd said.

The Panthers operated out of a 4-3-3 offense against RMU. The increased attack on the wing allowed the Panthers to connect deep and collect 12 corner kicks in total — one of which netted the winning goal.

Pitt changed to a 4-2-2-2 setup against Syracuse, hoping to clog the midfield but failing to stick together.

“There were a couple of guys tonight that I thought played solid, but overall most guys did not,” Luxbacher said. “We have to regroup for our game Tuesday.”

Pitt will host Virginia Military Institute 7 p.m. Tuesday at Ambrose Urbanic Field. Unless the VMI Keydets beat the Furman Paladins Saturday, they will enter the game winless. The Panthers are undefeated versus non-conference opponents this year and have outshot them 36-14.

“We’re gonna have to come out and send a message,” said Lynd.

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