Onward Pitt Men’s Soccer!

Another timely and helpful piece by Tex… The next match (win) will be plays against #7 Washington own in NC. Good luck young men!

Coach Jay once remarked that he had dogs in attendance at home soccer matches and appreciated their support. But I think if Pitt wins today against Washington and moves on to the semi-finals known as the College Cup, students, alumni and human fans might just outnumber our canine fans for a change.

Pitt is coming off a very impressive win over UCF in the Sweet 16 and cruised to a 4 to nil victory. Pitt almost made it look easy. Pitt’s offense is clicking and their goalkeeper is coming up with big saves.

Today’s opponent is Washington. This game will feature a great offensive team in Pitt going against a very fundamentally sound defensive team. Washington’s strength is up the middle starting with their Hermann semi-finalist player Dylan Teves. Much like Pitt’s Noel, the offense goes through him. He has 7 goals and 5 assists on the year but more importantly four game winning goals.

The Huskies also have the PAC 10 Defensive Player of the Year in Charlie Ostren, who not only plays solid defense but is a key contributor to the offense dishing out assists.

Washington has a very good goalkeeper who  has a 80 percent save percentage. Washington was second in conference in goals against average and shutouts. 

This year they played an abbreviated schedule due to Covid. Only six PAC 10 schools participated in soccer. Washington has beaten both the ranked Stanford and Oregon State teams this year and this will be their second straight trip to the quarterfinals. They are coached by Jamie Clark. He’s been coach for nine years and is the three time coach of the year in the conference.

Washington’s team is comprised of local talent. It has few if any international students unlike Pitt. Washington is known for playing very sound and organized defense. They like to possess the ball and then pick their opportunities. Washington tries to dictate the pace and tempo of the game on their opponents.   

Here are some keys to the game:

Husky Keys:

1) Bend but don’t break. Pitt will attempt to blitz Washington with shots. Washington needs to make sure Pitt takes few quality shots. Make sure the shots that Pitt does get off are coming from outside the box.

2) Keep the game close. If Washington gets behind early, it will change their game plan. Ideally, Washington will need to score first to have a real good chance at taking this game. Playing with the lead will allow them to double down on their defense.

3) Ball possession. Control the clock and prevent Pitt from possessing the ball. Washington can dictate the flow of the game and prevent a dangerous Pitt team from getting the ball. I expect Washington to use a 4-5-1 formation which can easily morph into a 4-4-2 when on the attack

Panther Keys:

1) Score first. The game dynamics change with Pitt in the lead. It will force Washington to bring players forward and commit to offense. Washington is far more comfortable playing defense. Pitt will find more scoring opportunities with a lead.

2) Capitalize on set plays. Washington has players that can prevent counter attacks and when their defense is set, it is tough to break through. So direct kicks and corner kicks could provide Pitt with its best scoring chances.

3) Press high. Make it difficult for Washington to clear the ball. Pressing helps keep the possession on Washington’s side of the field. It will help disrupt what the Huskys want to do which is control play in the center of the pitch.

I expect a very competitive and close match. But Washington hasn’t faced a team all year with the offensive firepower of Pitt. Pitt can score in so many different ways and by so many different players. However, Pitt could be without their star defenseman due to injury from their last match. But I believe Pitt has the depth and player quality to overcome this loss.

My prediction:

Pitt 3
Washington 1

Pitt avenges the ladies volleyball team and moves on to the semi finals.