ND Men’s Soccer
Notre Dame men’s soccer prepares for tough test against Pittsburgh
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, October 14, 2021
Notre Dame men’s soccer will face a difficult test this Friday when they host ACC Coastal leaders Pittsburgh to Alumni Stadium for a crucial conference match.
The Panthers have enjoyed an incredibly quick rise to the top of the college game in recent years. Before 2019, Pittsburgh hadn’t had a winning season since 2008. In 2019, they finally tipped the scales, going 10-8-2 and qualifying for the NCAA tournament but falling 5-0 to Georgetown. But last year, the Panthers broke out in a major way. They went 9-1 in conference play and made it all the way to the national semifinals before falling to Indiana.
Such a jump has come thanks to coach Jay Vidovich, who took over the program in 2015. Vidovich has a long history of success in the ACC, as the former Wake Forest coach built the Demon Deacons into a powerhouse and national champion before leaving for a brief stint of coaching in the USL, the American professional second tier. Once Vidovich took the reins at Pitt, his rebuilding of the Panthers was slow. Coming off a four year stretch without a win in ACC play pre-Vidovich, it would take another two seasons for the new boss to earn his first conference win at Pittsburgh. But by 2020, with the entire roster made of his recruits, Vidovich had his squad right where he wanted it, and the Panthers have taken off since.
International recruits make up much of the core of this years’ Pittsburgh squad with every player to have started every game for the Panthers being foreign-born. One such international player to watch out for will be junior midfielder Valentin Noel, who has two goals and three assists to his name so far this season. The Frenchman posted 14 goals and a pair of assists last year and was instrumental in the Panthers’ run to the College Cup. Another name to watch out for in the midfield will be Veljko Petkovic. The New Yorker has enjoyed a stellar three years at Pitt, posting six goals and five assists as a freshman, nine goals and eight assists as a sophomore, and five goals and five assists so far as a junior. Coincidentally, all three years those numbers have been good for second on the team.
For the Irish, forward Jack Lynn remains the man to watch leading the home side’s line. With six goals and three assists, the senior leads Notre Dame in both goals and points, and his extensive experience in ACC play will likely be an asset against an opponent as tough as Pitt. Also notable in the Irish attack are freshman Matthew Roou and Eno Nto. While the two rookies both have come off the bench in most games this season, the pair are second and third on the team in points respectively. Their ability to stretch defense later on in games has been an asset to head coach Chad Riley.
Notre Dame men’s soccer will resume ACC play Friday after a week-long break from action against Pittsburgh at Alumni Stadium. The match will kick off at 7pm.