PITTSBURGH – Three minutes remained in the Pittsburgh Panthers’ final outing before their Atlantic Coast Conference slate begins next Saturday. They held a 1-0 lead over Saint Peter’s University at Ambrose Urbanic Field when Peacocks forward Louis Mobbs tumbled to the ground inside Pitt’s 18-yard box under pressure from three defenders.
No college player had found the net against the Panthers this season. Only the Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ forward Max Touloute had breached Pitt’s defense with a first-half hat trick in the opening exhibition game on Aug. 18. Over 600 minutes had passed since the third of Touloute’s goals.
Saint Peter’s forward Luke Fairlamb drilled his spot kick toward Pitt goalkeeper Dan Lynd’s bottom corner. The 6-foot-4-inch stopper sprawled to his left to make a superb save that secured his team’s sixth consecutive shutout and third straight win.
“I saw him check that bottom corner,” Lynd told The Soccer Observer after Sunday’s game. “He made it pretty obvious.
“I didn’t know if he was trying to make me think he was going that way.”
Lynd’s spectacular stop was one of two highlights to bookend a largely mundane affair watched by 422 fans at the Petersen Sports Complex. Freshman forward Matt Nozedar notched his first collegiate goal in the third minute with a strike that proved to be the game winner.
Curren Page took a pass on the right side from Matt Bischoff before firing over a low cross that found its way to Nozedar at the back post. The Englishman took a touch before beating Scottish goalkeeper Jamie Cleland with a neat finish.
Pitt moved the ball neatly in the opening stages to stretch the visitors’ diamond midfield although there was little penetration when the ball crossed the halfway line. Lethargy soon took over in the sweltering heat and a raft of first-half substitutions as well as an enforced water break further interrupted the game’s rhythm.
There was a lengthy stoppage on 63 minutes when Panthers defender Stephane Pierre appeared to fall awkwardly over his right ankle. The Woodmere, New York native was eventually carried from the field with his ankle in an air cast. Subsequent X-rays did not show a break according to Pitt head coach Joe Luxbacher. It is suspected that Pierre will be missing for a while with a bad sprain.
Luxbacher’s back line held up despite the forced adjustments with the visitors being limited to six shots in total.
“The block of six in front of me is really stopping any threats to goal right now,” Lynd said. “We look very organized, especially for it being so early in the season.
“That’s going to be important when we hit the ACC.”
Pitt has struggled in conference play since joining the ACC in 2013. The Panthers have lost 15 of 19 games played and are still looking for that elusive first win. Wake Forest travel to the Steel City to kick off this year’s campaign on Sept. 12. The Demon Deacons won 2-0 at Ambrose Urbanic Field in the only previous ACC meeting between the schools two years ago.
“The grit and commitment and all that is there,” Luxbacher told The Soccer Observer. “But we have to play better soccer.
“We’ve shown glimpses, like for a 20-minute stretch at Lehigh when we played great and moved the ball well, but we’re not consistent.
“We have to play better. We’re capable.”
Pittsburgh (4-2-3-1): Dan Lynd – Andrew Wright, Kyle Braithwaite, Stephane Pierre, Matt Bischoff – Raj Kahlon, Romeo Charron – Darcy Bloemen, Jack Dickens, Curren Page – Matt Nozedar
Saint Peter’s (4-4-2): Jamie Cleland – Chris Stragapede, Reece Lambert, Jack Fisher, Michael Crentsil – Jack Pounce, Andrew Romero, Carlos Cartegna, Ezequiel Cei – Luke Fairlamb, Louis Mobbs
Referee: Vito Testa Jr.
Aug. 19, 2015 — Pitt and Saint Francis Settle For Scoreless Tie
Sept. 18, 2014 — Stateside Scots: Hamish Law, University Of Pittsburgh Forward