Pitt 0, #16 Akron 0, First Half (Second Round of NCAA Tournament)


Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics

Second round of the NCAA men’s soccer tournament

Pitt (9-4-5) against Akron (11-3-5)

Sunday November 20, 2022 | 1 p.m. | First Energy Stadium, Akron, OH

Stream ESPN+ | game statistics

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preview

When Jay Vidovich came to the University of Pittsburgh with the ambitious task of growing the men’s soccer program into an annual national contender, the next collegiate soccer program to emerge as the most consistent national contender was the University of Akron.

Indeed, early in Vidovich’s tenure at Pitt, he brought in a number of former Akron players to complete their careers in Pittsburgh, who helped Vidovich establish and build a winning culture. Among them were Bryce Creegan, Shane Wiedt and Robby Dambrot.

The Zips program has been a constant force in Division I men’s soccer, as they have reached the College Cup six times, finished second twice, and won the whole in 2010.

Creegan, Wiedt and Dambrot were there under the direction of head coach Jared Embick during portions of the Zips’ run of three College Cups in four years.

Fast forward to 2022, and Dambrot and Wiedt are playing in the pros (in the USL championship) and Creegan has moved on after a few years as a volunteer assistant under Vidovich, where he is a full-time assistant at San Diego State University. And since we arrived in mid-November, the men’s programs of Akron and Pitt, who have previously played 31 times in their rivalry, meet for the first time in the postseason at very high stakes.

Pitt’s rise to prominence has coincided with a trip to the Sweet 16 each of the last two seasons, but Akron stands in their way this time.

The winner of Sunday’s game plays against the winner of No. 1 Kentucky vs. South Florida, which kicks off at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. If Kentucky wins, the match will be played in Lexington, but if South Florida wins, the Akron/Pitt winner would host the Sweet 16 matchup.

The Zips took the very bottom seed for the men’s tournament with 16th place overall, giving them a bye in the first round, while Pitt had to take the harder route as they were unseeded in their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance. In the first round, the Panthers beat another strong program from northeast Ohio, Cleveland, 2-1 at Ambrose Urbanic Field on Thursday.

Pitt wins and now prepares for the NCAA Round 2 showdown in Akron

It’s very likely that Akron got the NCAA Tournament Seeding Committee’s acceptance because of his wild draw against Pitt in September. Who knows? If Pitt had won that match, they could have been the team with the bye in the first round.

Duel to draw: Pitt, Akron back and forth affair ends 3-3

How wild was the first match?

No. 10 Pitt hosted No. 14 Akron in their third top-25 home game of the season. The match did not disappoint as Pitt came back and took a 3-2 lead before Akron equalised, making it Pitt’s first 3-3 draw of the season.

The Panthers beat the Zips 18-9 and missed chances towards the end that would have won the match.

Vidovich said the game against Akron proved to be a great test for his team and a back-and-forth that anyone could have passed.

“Thanks to Akron,” Vidovich said after that match.

“They came out, they pressed like crazy, they put balls in the channel against us, they got a counterattack there and they scored some goals. Proud of the boys. Not many teams can fight back and take the lead after being down 2-0. Once again we gave up a sloppy goal. We had several chances to win the game but our quality wasn’t there in front of goal. It wasn’t what we needed.”

After Thursday night’s win, Pitt’s Bertin Jacquesson, who scored both goals for the Panthers, said he expects a much, much closer game against the Zips this time.

Jacquesson’s prediction may be particularly true for a number of reasons.

First off, Akron’s two top scorers will be missing Jason Shokalook (9 goals, 6 assists) and Dyson Clapier (7, 7) – who picked up red cards in the MAC Finals against Western Michigan and will be unavailable.

In addition, weather conditions are expected to be absolutely freezing, with temperatures not expected to exceed 27 degrees with winds up to 15mph.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to play another game,” said Vidovich after Thursday’s win.

“Akron is an opponent that we know because we played against them earlier in the year. A lot has changed since then, both for us and for them. I think it’s going to be a really good game. We’re two teams who love to play, so we should do so as long as the weather cooperates


Pitt game notes

THE SERIES – AKRON

  • This meeting marks the 31st all-time between the two teams, with Akron holding the 19-8-3 advantage over Pitt.
  • The two teams met in Pittsburgh earlier this season when they tied 3-3. Akron scored the first two goals of the game just 18 minutes later, but Pitt came back with three to retake the lead. The Zips split in the 53rd minute and the two teams drew.
  • Pitt’s last win of the series came at home in 2019 when they earned a 1-0 win.
  • The Zips have an 11-2 advantage in games played in Akron in the All-Time Series.

RECOGNIZING THE ZIPPERS

  • The Zips go into Sunday’s game with an 11-3-5 overall record of the year as they have one of the best offenses in the nation and rank third in the NCAA for total goals (48).
  • The Zips are led offensively by Jason Shokalook, who has nine goals, six assists and 24 points, while Dyson Clapier has seven goals, seven assists and 21 points on 38 shots.
  • Ryan Kingsford and Ashton Kamdem each have five assists this year as the Zips have 57 total assists, which ranks second in the NCAA.
  • In goal, Mitch Budler has made all 19 starts and owns an 11-3-5 record that comes with 1.05 goals against average, .706 save percentage and seven clean sheets.

PANTHERS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT

  • This is the fourth straight season and fourth time overall that the Panthers have received an NCAA tournament bid.
  • The Panthers have now won at least one tournament game in all four seasons for which they have received offers.
  • Pitt currently owns a 7-2-1 record in NCAA tournament play.
  • The Panthers are looking for their third straight trip to the Sweet 16 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
6.5.21 UCF F, 4-0
5/10/21 Washington W, 3-0
14/05/21 Indiana L, 1-0
11/21/21 No. Illinois W, 5-2
11/27/21 Hofstra W, 4-0
12/4/21 at Notre Dame T, 1-1
11/17/22 Cleveland St. W, 2-1

POINTS IN PIECES

  • The Panthers have recorded 36 goals, 43 assists and 115 points so far this season.
  • The 43 assists is the third-most in a single season in program history, while the 115 points is the fifth-most in a single season.
  • Overall, the Panthers have six players who have scored at least nine points this year.
    • Junior Filip Mirkovic leads the squad with 18 points Bertin Jacquesson and Valentine Noelare just behind with 17 each.

LET ME SUPPORT YOU

  • A major strength of the Panthers over the past few seasons has been the way they disperse the ball.
  • So far this season, Pitt has 43 assists with 36 goals. Her total of 43 assists is currently 15th in the NCAA, while her 2.39 assists per game is 14th in the NCAA.
  • Filip Mirkovic currently leads the ACC and ranks 4th in the NCAA for total assists (12), while also leading the ACC and 3rd in the NCAA for assists per game (0.75 ) proven.
  • With 12 assists a year, Mirkovic set a new school record for assists in a single season. His 19 career assists rank 4th in program history.
  • Pitt has a total of 10 players who have at least two helpers a year.
  • Last season, Pitt led the NCAA in assists (63) and assists per game (3.15), both of which set program records.
  • For the past three seasons, Pitt has led the NCAA with a total of 150 assists.

TOTAL SUPPORTS (Last 3 Seasons)

  1. pit 150
  2. Wachwald 139
  3. Campbell 135
  4. washington 124
  5. Klemson 116






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