TAMPA - The University of South Florida men's soccer team headed to the "Steel City" today looking to regroup from its heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss to West Virginia on Friday night, and regroup is exactly what it did, handing Pittsburgh a decisive 2-1 loss on Sunday afternoon.
The win improves the Bulls to 6-1-1 (2-1-1 BIG EAST) while Pitt drops to 1-8-0 (0-4-0 BIG EAST).
"I thought the guys did a very good job today," said USF head coach George Kiefer. "Pitt is one of the more difficult places to play with its field, couple that with the fact that is has been raining the past few days, so it was a very muddy surface and we had to tweak the way we played. But I thought that our guys did a great job with that."
The Bulls came out of the gate on Sunday looking to force the tempo of the match.
"On this type of surface (rough and bumpy) we really wanted to push the game into their half of the field," said Kiefer, "We played out backs very aggressive and stepped up the pressure. We also changed up our formations which is something that we have been working on, and I think we are getting good enough where we can slide into something different if we need to in certain games."
USF quickly tried to get to the Panthers' goalkeeper, Keegan Gunderson, to start the game as Javed Mohammed tried to get the Bulls on the board with a shot that was blocked in the second minute. Zak Boggs then attempted a shot that went wide almost four minutes later.
USF would eventually strike first when Andre Mittoo scored his first goal of the season on a header off a corner kick from five yards out in the 16th minute of action. Ashani Fairclough and Fernando Gonzalez were credited with the assists.
The Bulls would not let up after the game's first goal. USF would get off five more shots before the halftime intermission with two a piece coming from Bernardo Anor (in the 19th minute and 34th minute) and Sebastian Thuriere (in the 35th and 37th minutes).
The Bulls controlled the first half of play, outshooting the Panthers 8-2 while also having the advantage in corner kicks, 3-1 including the one that led to the game's lone goal of the first 45 minutes.
In the second half, USF broke out of the gate quickly making sure that it would not drop its second game of the season.
The Bulls would turn up the heat, on the cool and overcast Pittsburgh day, getting off three shots - including two on net - in the first 4:30 of the second stanza. Javed Mohammed would get the first chance of the half, just over a minute in, with Gunderson coming out to make a save. After a shot by Francisco Aristeguieta went wide, Jorge Mora would have his shot stopped by Pitt's goalkeeper in the 49th minute.
After a foul by the Panthers just before the 52nd minute, Anor would break through and give USF 2-0 lead off a penalty kick, from just inside the box, for his team-high third goal of the season.
Pittsburgh, however, would not go away quietly as Justin Boehm scored the Panthers' first goal since a 4-3 overtime loss to No. 16 UC Santa Barbara on Sept. 6. The goal, Boehm's first of the year, would come from five yards out in the 85th minute.
Although none of USF's bench players figured into the scoring on Sunday, several did have a significant impact on the game.
"I thought that a few guys off the bench - Alessandro (Bianchi), Ogi (Perucica) and Shawn Chin - all came on today off the bench and did a good job for us," said Kiefer. "I thought Sebastian (Thuriere) did a nice job. They (Pittsburgh) were very aerial and he did a good job helping us win the battle in the air. I just thought that our guys coming off the bench did a good job for us and were a big factor in the win."
Pittsburgh would get two corner kicks in the final two minutes of the game, but could not convert on either one.
USF goalkeeper Jeff Attinella would make four saves on the afternoon allowing just one goal and falling just shy of his third shutout of the season.
The Bulls would outshoot the Panthers 19-10 and held a slight advantage in corner kicks, 7-6.
USF now returns home to face Cincinnati on Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the USF Soccer Stadium.
Season tickets for USF men's soccer games are $40 for adults and $20 for youths and senior citizens. Adult individual match tickets are $6, while youth and senior citizen admission is $3. All groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $2.50 per ticket. All USF students will be admitted at no cost when they display their student ID.