Michael Tuohy will pull on his University of Pittsburgh jersey for the 45th and final time on Saturday night when the Panthers host defending national champion Notre Dame to close out their season.
The Glaswegian midfielder transferred to the United States in 2012 after spending his first year of higher education at Stirling University.
Pittsburgh has endured a tough stretch during Tuohy’s tenure, clocking up 11 wins, 10 draws and 28 defeats during his three seasons. Still, life off the field in Western Pennsylvania has so impressed the 21-year-old that he aims to stay there after completing his sociology degree.
TSO spoke to Tuohy ahead of his final appearance at the collegiate level.
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How are you feeling about being two days away from your last game?
It’s not quite hit me yet. It probably will on Monday morning, or maybe in the last 10 minutes of the game when I look up at the clock and realize that this will be the last time I’m out there. I’ve been spending a bit more time with the guys and trying to cling on to the last few days of it. It’s been a good time.
What’s been the highlight from your Pittsburgh career?
In my first season we had our best start since 1986. And then moving into the Atlantic Coast Conference from the Big East was a highlight as well. You play against some highly ranked teams in massive stadiums.
Going to Maryland last year was pretty good. There were about 4,000 people there. That was something new for me. It was a great experience to deal with having that many people on your back. We held out for about 70 minutes, but we couldn’t quite get the result.
(TSO Note – Pittsburgh began the 2012 season with six wins and two draws. Last year, Maryland beat Pitt 2-0 before winning the ACC tournament title and reaching the national championship decider).
What’s next for you after graduation?
I’ve fallen in love with the college soccer style, so I’m looking to try to get a graduate assistant position somewhere around this area and making the transition into coaching. The level of competition is very high in the college Division I. It would be ideal if I could stay with it during my coaching career.
Why do you want to stay in the Pittsburgh area?
There are a lot of similarities to Glasgow. It’s a post-industrial city on the river with a hard work ethic. That attracts me to it. It’s got the city environment but it’s also got some green space. It’s not too big and busy and it doesn’t stress you out a whole lot. I’m just really settled after being here for a while. I’ve got no plans to move any time soon.
Why did you transfer to the U.S. after a year at Stirling University as opposed to coming straight over?
I only found out about the whole soccer scholarship thing from a friend who was going out in the year that I went to Stirling. The entire process would have been too rushed for me to make it, so I decided to go to a university in Scotland with a good sporting reputation and take my time over the decision to get the best offer.
What attracted you to the University of Pittsburgh?
It was the only place that really ticked all the boxes. I came over at the end of May 2012 for a visit. Term was finished. A couple of guys had stayed around to take classes in the summer, but it was fairly quiet. I liked it from the off. I had offers from other schools but there was always something that held me back. My parents and I thought coming here was the best decision for us.
Notre Dame handed you your biggest loss during your time here (7-1 in Oct. 2012). What do you recall from that game?
I was withdrawn at half-time due to being on a yellow card and getting into a couple of challenges and stuff. That was a low point. They are a top, top side and they’ve been to numerous championships. You learn from those things.
We went back there last year with quite a poor side. We only won one game all season, but we went there for our final game and gave it a right good go. We kept it at 1-0 until they got the second in the last 10 minutes. We’ve developed. It’s all about improving and trying to progress and as a team.
And as fate would have it, your last chance to win a conference game comes against the reigning national champions on Saturday.
It will be a good time to start. A lot of times we’ve been on level terms with teams or outplayed them and we’ve not had that little bit of luck. Getting over the hump last year or even earlier this year would have been a big thing.
I’m a Partick Thistle fan. I’m from a big Celtic family. My uncle, Joe Filippi, played for Celtic and Ayr United in the 1970s. I wasn’t able to go to many games as a boy and a couple of my friends in primary school were going up to the Jags games every week. It spawned from there. It’s my local team so you’ve got to support them.
So you’ll be taking some abuse after Thistle’s 6-0 loss to Celtic in the League Cup last night?
The less said about it the better. We don’t expect a whole lot when we go to Parkhead.
What’s a happier memory for you as a Jags fan?
Going to Rangers in the Scottish Cup quarter-final in 2008 when we drew 1-1. We went a goal up in the second half when Damon Gray slipped one in, but then Kris Boyd equalized about two minutes later. But those two minutes were brilliant. Being 1-0 up at Ibrox with about 20 minutes to go. I was there for the replay too when we lost at Firhill.
Thistle tends to step up their game for those Glasgow derbies when they’re in the lower leagues. Now they’re playing an attractive style in the Premier League and looking comfortable there. I’ll be going home over Christmas to watch a couple of games for sure.
Sept. 18, 2014 — Stateside Scots: Hamish Law, University Of Pittsburgh Forward