PITTSBURGH - Redshirt senior Cory Werth scored the equalizer in the 70th minute on a rebound off the post as Pitt secured a 1-1 tie with North Carolina State on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Ambrose Urbanic Field.
The Panthers (2-2-2, 0-1-1 ACC) earned their first conference point of the season and stayed unbeaten at home in 2014 (1-0-2). NC State (3-2-1, 0-1-1), meanwhile, is still searching for its first road victory (0-1-1).
Werth's tying score came after sophomore Andrew Wright centered a pass to freshman Darcy Bloemen. Bloemen collected the ball in the middle of the box and rang a shot off the lower left post. The ball dribbled in front of the goal line to the right and Werth was there to clean up the mess.
It was Werth's first goal of the season and second of his career. He currently leads the team with four points. For Wright and Bloemen, it was each their first collegiate points.
Junior goaltender Dan Lynd played an outstanding game in goal, making a season-high eight saves. The only blemish on his stat sheet was a converted penalty kick by the Wolfpack. All night, Lynd commanded the defense and was constantly beating the NC State offense to balls in the air.
Michael Bajza was the goal-scorer for NC State, scoring in the 21st minute. Alex McCauley was equally impressive between the pipes for the Wolfpack, making six saves, including some nifty stops.
The Panthers controlled tempo nearly all of the first half, especially in the first 15 minutes of the game, recording four shots and three corner kicks in the early-goings. Pitt's first chance on goal came just four minutes in when senior Michael Tuohy lined up for a free kick from 20 yards out. Tuohy placed his shot to the far low corner, but McCauley made the diving save at the goal line and punched it out of bounds.
Pitt had multiple chances in the 13th minute to break open the scoring, but couldn't capitalize. Werth intercepted a pass near midfield and led the Panthers in transition, eventually resulting in a shot by redshirt junior Ryan Myers that was blocked. On the ensuing corner kick, freshman Raj Kahlon came up with the loose ball all alone in the middle of the box and sent his shot to the lower right corner. McCauley was nowhere in sight, but Travis Wannemuehler held his ground on the line and made the big defensive save.
Play remained steady for the next few minutes until the Wolfpack started to control possession. With NC State breaking away for a goal opportunity, Pitt defender sophomore Stephane Pierre was called for a take down in the box and Bajza converted the penalty kick to give NC State a 1-0 lead at the 20:12 mark.
Neither team was able to gain a competitive advantage for the remainder of the half, however, Myers narrowly missed another golden opportunity for the Panthers in the 37th minute on a free kick. His decision was to go top shelf, but so was McCauley's as he jumped to punch the ball away for a save. The result was a Pitt corner kick in which sophomore Kevin Murray's header went wide.
In the second half, the Panthers picked up the intensity right where they left it at the end of the first half, placing two shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the second. Over the next 10 minutes, it was NC State's turn to fire three shots, with Lynd registering one save during the barrage.
Looking to even the score in the 66th minute, Myers played a beautiful ball to junior Patrick Dixon, who corralled the pass, turned and fired an attempt, but McCauley stopped the shot. It would only take another four minutes for the Panthers to finally break through and knot the score on Werth's rebound.
Sensing another goal coming on by Pitt, the Wolfpack aggressively began to attack the Panthers defense, putting three more shots on goal between the 73nd and 78th minutes. However, Lynd was up for the challenge and turned each effort away.
With time winding down, Pitt was awarded four corner kicks in the final four minutes of regulation, including two in the final 32 seconds, but couldn't finish any of them off and failing to even record a shot.
The extra session was clearly dominated by NC State, as evident by the 7-1 shot advantage. Lynd was tested in just once in each overtime period and was able to preserve the tie. A turn and shoot by Holden Fender three minutes into the first overtime was the Wolfpack's best chance of extra time. Pitt's only attempt in the final 20 minutes was a Wright shot that sailed wide with one minute remaining in the first overtime.
Despite outshooting NC State 14-12 in regulation, the Wolfpack ended with a 19-15 advantage. Corner kicks were in favor of the Panthers by a count of 12-8, with all of Pitt's coming in the first 90 minutes.
The Panthers wrap up their homestand with a non-conference game against Niagara on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.