NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament – Third Round
FINAL: Pitt 2, Kentucky 1
NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament
PSN coverage: Dan Angell (reporting)
The Pitt Panthers returned to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament for the third straight season in dramatic fashion, overcoming a second-half deficit, then playing with a man down, to defeat the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats, 2-1, in Lexington, KY Sunday night.
Senior midfielder Valentin Noel’s half-volley from close range off a corner kick in the 55th minute, then Bertin Jacquesson’s wonder strike in the 87th minute lifted the Panthers to the upset victory.
Truly a brilliantly executed play.
Malliefaud ball to the top of the 18 for Mirkovic, who screens his man off, then lays it off to Bertin who took it from there.
Maybe Pitt found his number 9 / hold up forward @DOMISMONEY2 ?? https://t.co/WKTCFXM2W1
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) 28 November 2022
The Panthers will now host Portland in the 4th round (Elite Eight) on either Friday or Saturday, at Ambrose Urbanic FIeld.
Look for a more detailed recap to follow on Pittsburgh Soccer Now from Lexington, KY.
FULL TIME: PITTSBURGH 2, KENTUCKY 1: The Panthers will advance to Portland with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
90′ — Desperation time for the Wildcats. Pitt holding form as we hit 30 seconds to play.
87′ — GOAL, PITTSBURGH: Bertin Jaquesson decides to get a strike from the top of the box and only finds the net, beating Mols for the go-ahead. Despite being down 10, Pitt has pulled ahead of No. 1 Kentucky. Panthers 2, Wildcats 1.
86′ — The Wildcats go down in the box, but the referee isn’t interested and the Waves play on.
85′ — Jaquesson fouled hard, but the referee is not going to give a card here. It’s just a free kick to Pitt.
84′ — The Wildcats send the corner into the road behind the court. Panthers still in good shape.
83′ — Pitt is still hanging on, as the defense continues to frustrate Kentucky’s offense. The Panthers force a corner on the Wildcat offense and have to hang on again.
78′ — RED CARD, PITTSBURGH: Henrique Gallina is sent off with a red card for a tackle on Martin Soereide, which looks like an incredibly harsh decision. I’m not even sure it was the right decision, as it looked like Gallina was the player to be dropped at first glance. I’d have to see a replay to know, but it looks like Pitt is against it now.
76′ — Kentucky wins the first corner of the game. Pitt is equal to the task and nothing comes of it. The Wildcats have only produced two shots on goal, and Pitt’s defense deserves a good portion of the credit for that.
72′ — Kentucky’s defense sends a Pitt cross into contact, and the Panthers get their fourth corner of the game. This only leads to a Pitt roll.
69′ — Jacquesson had another solid look at the net, but Mols does enough to force him to change his shot and miss the net. At the other end, Gutmann shoots one and the score remains even.
67′ — Jacquesson unleashes a laser on the ground that just whizzes past the right post. Mols had no shot at it if it hadn’t gone wide; Pitt almost had the lead.
66′ — Jackson Gilman saves the game for Pitt for now by denying Bjorgolfsson a good look at the net. The Panthers were dangerously close to giving in there.
64′ — Cross comes towards the net but Jaquesson can’t get on the end of it. Pitt is still the aggressor at this point.
56′ — It’s the first goal Kentucky has allowed in 397 minutes of action. The Wildcats hadn’t allowed one since South Carolina scored in the Sun Belt quarterfinals.
54′ — GOAL, PITTSBURGH: The Panthers have the answer, as Valentin Noel thumps home the rebound after the first save from Mols. Pitt responds in a big way and is back on terms in Lexington. Panthers 1, Wildcats 1.
52′ — GOAL, KENTUCKY: And a cross lands in the wrong place and Casper Grening manages to tap it home on the feed from Nick Gutmann. One of Pitt’s assistants gets a red card protesting the call, and it’s to no avail. Wildcats 1, Panthers 0.
50′ — Luis Sahmkow with the best chance of the game, but a Kentucky tackle robs him of the shot. Pitt gets the first corner of the game but can’t do anything about it.
HALF TIME: Pitt 0, Kentucky 0
45′ — Lucas Rosa floats the last attack of the first half over the bar. Pitt will go to the locker room level.
43′ — Lucca Rodrigues shuts down a Pitt attack coming from the left with a blocked cross. Panthers keep up the pressure, but no breakthrough yet.
40′ — These officials allow both teams to play. They favor defense, which appears to be good for Pitt based on the first 40 minutes.
38′ — That was the look Pitt wanted. Valentin Noel comes through for an excellent look at goal, but Mols comes out and prevents it from being a solid shot. Big save by the Wildcat keeper and it remains deadlocked.
36′ — The board has been restored. Pitt still can’t break through to get a good look at the goal, but neither can Kentucky.
33′ — It was almost the mistake Pitt could not afford to make. Eythor Bjorgolfsson found space deep in the box, and only a miss kept him from getting a good look at goal. Panthers dodge a bullet there.
30′ — I think Pitt needs to get a goal before it goes off. With Kentucky struggling to adjust to the wind, the Wildcats aren’t likely to mount a proper offense until they can get to the locker room. If the Panthers can capitalize, they could force Kentucky to adjust more than the wind at halftime.
27′ — The video board has gone dead in Lexington, and time is kept in the press box only now.
23′ — Halfway through the first half, Pitt seems to have adjusted better to the strong wind. Kentucky seems determined to keep trying long runs down the sideline, and it’s not working. The Wildcat faithful are not satisfied; one just shouted, “You keep doing that and there’s nobody there!”
21′ — Guilherme Feitosa comes up with the first real chance, but Mols is equal to it. Feitosa probably shot further than he wanted, but the attack was a good idea.
20′ — Apart from one shot on goal from Casper Grening, it has been a straight death. Whether it’s the conditions or the defence, neither side has threatened so far.
1. 3′ – That’s what Pitt has to do. Casper Mols’ first touch of the ball on a cross was on the shaky side and the Panthers almost had an opportunity to knock it home. Mols is only a freshman; Pitt must test him.
12′ — First real trip into the box for Kentucky. Pitt held their form well to turn the threat around.
10′ — Zero shots on goal through the first 10. So far, Pitt has had a little better play, but not enough to really make a meaningful difference.
8′ — Bertin Jaquesson puts a ball in the field on the ground, and even though Kentucky handles it, he has the right idea. Keeping the ball on the ground is probably how someone is going to set up a good offense.
5′ — So far, the wind is preventing both teams from getting on the end of passes. Winds gusting up to 21 miles per hour tonight, which could make things tough for the keepers if either side can mount an attack.
1′ – It’s foggy in Lexington, with temperatures of 44 degrees as we start rolling. It has rained all day during my journey here from Indianapolis, but the course seems in good shape.
The Pitt Panthers are looking to advance to the Elite Eight for the third straight season, but they face a big challenge as they will face top-seeded Kentucky on the road in Lexington for a Sweet 16 round matchup.
After their convincing 3-0 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Akron, it’s safe to say that Pitt has regained its footing as they continue to push their way back into the conversation as a serious contender to reach the College Cup.
Now they must clear what may be the most difficult hurdle: taking on the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
This is the first ever matchup between Pitt and Kentucky in men’s soccer.
We have a full preview and hear from both sides of this matchup below.
The winner of this game will take on and host Portland, either on Friday the 2nd. December or Saturday 3 December.
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Pitt Game Notes
THE SERIES – KENTUCKY
- This meeting marks the first ever meeting between the two programmes.
- This meeting marks the third time the Panthers have faced the #1 team in the nation since 2019.
- Pitt is 1-1-0 against the #1 team in the nation over the last three years with a 2-0 win on the road over #1 Virginia in 2019.
SCOUT THE WILDCATS
- The Wildcats enter Sunday’s game as the only undefeated team in the nation as they own a 15-0-5 record on the year. They earned the Sun Belt Conference title with a 2-0 win over James Madison.
- Kentucky opened its NCAA tournament last weekend with a 4-0 second-round home win over South Florida. They had four different scorers for their four goals as they played a strong all-round game.
- As a team, Kentucky leads the NCAA in goal differential (+38) while ranking third in goals (52) and third in points (159).
- The Wildcats are led offensively by Nick Gutmann who leads the NCAA in assists (18) while he has 28 points. Casper Grening is tied for the team lead with 10 goals and 25 points, while Eythor Bjorgolfsson has 10 goals and 22 points in 18 games.
- In goal, freshman Casper Mols was named Sun Belt Goalkeeper of the Year as he had a great season while making 15 starts. He owns an 11-0-4 record with a 0.68 goals-against average, .714 save percentage and nine clean sheets on the year.
PANTHERS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
- This marks the fourth straight season and fourth time overall the Panthers have earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
- The Panthers have now won at least one tournament game in all four seasons they have received a bid.
- This marks the Panthers’ third straight trip to the Sweet 16.
- Pitt currently owns an 8-2-1 record in all-time NCAA Tournament play.
- The Panthers are looking for their third straight trip to the Elite Eight on Sunday.
Date opponent result
11/21/20 Lehigh W, 2-0
11/24/20 at Georgetown L, 5-0
5/2/21 Monmouth W, 6-1
5/6/21 UCF W, 4-0
5/10/21 Washington W, 3-0
5/14/21 Indiana L, 1-0
11/21/21 No. Illinois W, 5-2
27.11.21 Hofstra W, 4-0
12/4/21 at Notre Dame T, 1-1
11/17/22 Cleveland St. W, 2-1
11/20/22 at Akron W, 3-0
SCORES POINTS IN BINS
- The Panthers have scored 39 goals, 45 assists and 123 points so far this season.
- The 45 assists are the second most in a single season in program history, while the 123 points are the third most in a single season in program history. The 39 goals are ninth all-time.
- Overall, the Panthers have six players who have recorded at least nine points and four with 11+ points on the year.
- Senior Valentine Noel leads the squad with 21 points while Filip Mirkovic and Bertin Jacquesson is second on the squad with 18 points on the year.
TO SCORE FIRST A MUST FOR PITT
- One of the keys to victory for the Panthers over the past four seasons has been scoring the first goal of the game.
- Since 2019, Pitt owns an overall record of 41-1-3 when scoring the game’s first goal.
- The Panthers are 9-0-1 this year when scoring the first goal while just 1-4-3 when allowing the first goal of the game.
- Pitt hasn’t lost a game in scoring the first goal since falling to #2 Indiana 3-2 in double overtime on August 30, 2019.
Season record win %
2022 9-0-1 .950
2021 11-0-2 .923
2020-21 14-0-0 1000
2019 8-1-0 .889
- With a win, the Panthers would advance to their third straight Elite Eight and would play the winner of Portland and Western Michigan at home next weekend. The game will be either Friday 2 December or Saturday 3 December.