MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Senior Dan Prete scored a goal and assisted on the game-winner in the 13th minute leading Pitt to a 2-0 victory at cross-town rival Robert Morris in non-conference action on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at North Athletic Complex.
The win brings Pitt (3-3-3, 0-2-1 ACC) back to .500 on the season and pushes its record to 3-1-2 in non-league games this year. Since the 2013 home finale, Pitt has lost just once in seven games outside of the Atlantic Coast Conference (4-1-2). Robert Morris (4-5-1) suffered just its third loss at home in the last 13 outings.
Prete’s three points is a career-high while the assist was the first in his Pitt tenure. He now has a team-best seven points on the year. Freshman Hamish Law netted his second goal of the season, both serving as game-winners. Junior Andrew Wright assisted on Prete’s goal, bumping Wright into a tie for the team lead with two assists in 2014.
Junior Dan Lynd, who earned his second career win, notched his third clean sheet of the season and sixth of his career.
Less than three minutes into the game, Robert Morris nearly grabbed a 1-0 lead when, Neco Brett, one of the most prolific scorers in Division I the past two seasons, rang a shot off the crossbar.
For the next 10 minutes, play between the two teams was fairly even until Law put the Panthers on the scoreboard, giving them a 1-0 advantage. In the 14th minute, Prete dribbled up the left side of the field and played a through ball to Law, who fired a shot from the top of the box. His shot deflected off an RMU defender and settled into the back of the net.
Lynd faced his first test of the game not even a minute later, stopping an attempt from Bruce Cullen. Lynd would make one more save during the remainder of the half while Pitt forced Colonials goalkeeper Brenden Alfery to make two saves in the first half as neither team was able to gain a competitive advantage in the final 30 minutes with Pitt taking a 1-0 lead into the break.
Pitt looked to extend its lead early in the second half off a corner kick. After the ball bounced around a few times, sophomore Stephane Pierre rocketed a shot in the direction of the goal, but Alfery came up with the diving save to keep it a one-goal game.
Over the next 20 minutes the two teams continued to battle back and forth with neither team gaining many opportunities. Brett had another chance on goal in the 61st minute with Lynd down on the ground. However, Lynd’s tall frame played to his advantage as he made the reaching stretch to preserve the shutout.
In the 71st minute, Prete was making plays again, this time tallying his team-best third goal of the year. With Wright pushing the ball down the left side of the field, he sent a perfect cross to the center of the box where Prete was waiting to redirect a header into the right corner of the goal.
Pitt’s stout defensive line of juniors Kevin Fielden, Wright and sophomore Stephanie Pierre held Brett and the rest of the Colonials in check. Entering the game, Brett ranked third in NCAA Division I with eight goals. Last year, Brett finished the season with 14 goals, which was sixth most in the country.
After finishing the first half with six shots each, Pitt broke out with10 attempts in the second half to win the shot battle 16-9. Seven of Pitt’s shots were on goal, forcing Alfery to make five saves in the game. The Panthers were also awarded four corner kicks to three for Robert Morris.
Up next for Pitt is a matchup with nationally-ranked No. 19 Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at Ambrose Urbanic Field. Virginia, which is coming off a 2013 Final Four run, was recently ranked as high as number two in the nation. The Cavaliers will serve as the third top-25 team the Panthers will face in just four ACC game so far in 2014.