Pittsburgh Panthers men's soccer

Pittsburgh Panthers men's soccer is the NCAA Division I intercollegiate men's soccer (association football) team of the University of Pittsburgh, often referred to as "Pitt", located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pitt men's soccer competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and plays their home games at Ambrose Urbanic Field in the university's Petersen Sports Complex. Pitt soccer players have had eight selections as All-Americans and multiple former Panthers have gone on to play professionally. The Panthers have appeared in two NCAA tournaments and have been coached by Jay Vidovich since 2015.

Pittsburgh Panthers
men's soccer
2019 Pittsburgh Panthers men's soccer team
Pitt Panthers wordmark.svg
Founded1954; 66 years ago (1954)
UniversityUniversity of Pittsburgh
Head coachJay Vidovich (4th season)
LocationPittsburgh, PA
StadiumAmbrose Urbanic Field
(Capacity: 735)
ColorsBlue and Gold[1]
NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals
NCAA Tournament Round of 16
NCAA Tournament appearances
1962, 1965, 2019
Conference Regular Season championships
1981, 1985


The Pitt men's soccer program has it origins in 1951 when Leo Bemis, who was then serving as Pitt's director of men's intramural sports,[2] created a pick-up team at the university which played Slippery Rock University to a 1-1 draw.[3] Through 1953, Bemis continued coaching the team which competed intercollegiately as a non-varsity club sport.[4] However, Bemis was able to convince then Pitt athletic director Tom Hamilton to elevate the club team to varsity status in 1954.[3] Despite starting with no scholarships[5] and no feeder system in place to recruit players,[3] Pitt's first team went 8-1 in 1954,[6] and by 1955, the program had its first All-American selection, Jerome Bressanelli.[3] For the first 20 years of the program, Pitt played their games at various facilities including Trees Field, Forbes Field, Kennard Field in the lower Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh,[7] and even various high schools, with occasional games played at Pitt Stadium, which at the time was primarily reserved for Pitt's football team.[8]

Pitt playing East Stoudsburg in muddy conditions in Pitt Stadium during the first round of the 1965 NCAA soccer tournament

In 1961, the soccer program received funding to provide its first scholarships,[3] and in 1962, Pitt earned its first bid to the NCAA soccer championship tournament, where it lost to Maryland, 3-4.[9] Pitt again qualified for the NCAA soccer tournament championship in 1965, but lost 0-2 on a late goal to East Stoudsburg in game played in muddy conditions at Pitt Stadium.[3] Beginning in 1970, Pitt began play in the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Soccer Conference (also known as the West Penn Intercollegiate Soccer Conference, or WPISC),[10] a conference that Leo Bemis helped to found and in which he would eventually lead Pitt to a conference championship in 1981.[3][11] When Pitt Stadium had artificial turf installed in 1970 and flood lighting installed in 1973, the soccer team began regularly playing its home games in the stadium, which remained its home through the 1990s.[8]

After a 30-year tenure as head coach, Bemis was succeeded in 1984 by Joe Luxbacher, a former standout player and captain for the program who also served as an assistant under Bemis.[12] Pitt moved from the West Penn conference to the Big East Conference for the 1985 season.[13] In that first season in the Big East, Pitt finished atop the Big East South Division with an undefeated 4-0 record[14] and appeared in the 1985 Big East Tournament where they lost their first game eventual Big East tournament champion Syracuse. Pitt followed that with a second place in the South Division in 1986. Pitt would also finish second in the regular season conference standings in 1992 and 1995, years when the Big East was not broken into divisions, with Luxbacher winning Big East Coach of the Year in each of those seasons.[15] While a member of the Big East, Pitt would advance to the Big East soccer tournament six times, including in 1995, when an injury riddled team[16] set a program record for number of wins, including victories over 11th-ranked St. John's and 4th-ranked Rutgers.[8] The 1995 team lost in the Big East tournament championship game to St. John's,[15] but finished the season ranked 22nd in the nation in the final Coaches' Poll.[17]

The Petersen Sports Complex is the home to Pitt soccer

Following the demolition of Pitt Stadium in 1999, the soccer team moved its games to various locations, but primarily played home games at Founder's Field in Harmarville, Pennsylvania, an off-campus venue.[18] The program returned to campus when it moved into the Petersen Sports Complex, which houses the Ambrose Urbanic Field soccer facility, in the spring of 2011.[19] Ambrose Urbanic Field, which serves as both the practice and competition venue for the Pitt soccer team, contains 735 seats and a FIFA-certified "Duraspine" pitch.[20] The first game held at the soccer facility was an exhibition played by the men's team against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on March 20, 2011.[21] The team also uses the on-campus Cost Sports Center for indoor practice during inclement weather.[22]

In 2013, Pitt moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), bringing the Panthers into another historically strong league with 15 national championships in men's soccer.[23] Luxbacher retired as coach following the 2015 season.[24] Jay Vidovich, a former national collegiate coach of the year, was hired as Pitt's head soccer coach in 2015,[25] and led Pitt to a top 25 ranking[26] and an NCAA tournament appearance in 2019.[27]

Awards and honorsEdit


Pitt has had six different players and eight all-time All-American selections.[28]

  • 1955 Jerome Bressanelli, halfback
  • 1956 Jerome Bressanelli, halfback
  • 1958 Ronald Wyatt, fullback
  • 1959 Ronald Wyatt, fullback
  • 1959 George Zanicoupolous, goalkeeper
  • 1962 Paul Liberati, left halfback
  • 1963 Dave Reichenbach, outside left
  • 1965 George N.J. Sommer, III, left halfback

Big East honorsEdit

Pitt played soccer as a member of the Big East Conference from 1985 to 2012. During this time, Pitt's Joe Luxbacher won the Big East Coach of the Year award twice, Ben Garry was named to the Big East All-Rookie team, and Pitt had seven other All-Big East Team selections.[15] Players all garnered multiple Big East Scholar-Athlete Awards with over 100 players being named Big East Academic All-Stars.[29]


Professional playersEdit

Pitt has had at least 22 former soccer players go on to play professionally.[30]

Panthers in the Pros
Name Team(s) Year(s)
Dan Lynd Rochester Rhinos 2016
Matt Baker Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Reading United A.C.
Eric Barnes Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2009
Reagen Bender Hershey Wildcats 2001-02
Frank Bucci Connecticut Yankees
Pittsburgh Spirit
Denver Avalanche
Ben Garry Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2001-02
Bill Haines Pittsburgh Miners 1975
Matt Langton Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2008-09[33]
Denny Kohlmeyer Pittsburgh Miners
Pittsburgh Stingers
Asst. Coach 1994-95
Drew Kopp Hershey Wildcats 1999-01
Travis Kruse Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2000-01
Joe Luxbacher Philadelphia Atoms
Pittsburgh Miners
Pittsburgh Spirit
1977-78,[12] 1979-81
Name Team(s) Year(s)
Phil Matilla Reading Rage 2001
Mark Nigh[3] Pennsylvania Stoners 1980[34]
Ted Noethling Pittsburgh Stingers 1994
John O'Hara Pennsylvania Stoners
Pittsburgh Spirit
Cleveland Force
Heinz Pak Pittsburgh Stingers 1994
Eric Prex Pittsburgh Stingers 1995
Bill Rex Pittsburgh Miners 1975
Art Richardson Pittsburgh Canons
Pittsburgh Miners
Todd Smith Fort Wayne Flames 1988[35]
Ref:[30] unless otherwise noted.

Current squadEdit

Updated August 20, 2019[36]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
0   GK Johan Peñaranda
1   GK Alexander Steinbach
2   DF Nyk Sessock
3   DF Chandler Vaughn
4   DF Bryce Washington
5   DF Arturo Ordóñez
6   MF Lucas Cyriacus
7   MF Braden Kline
8   MF Valentin Noel
9   FW Edward Kizza
11   MF Rodrigo Almeida
12   FW Josh Hesson
13   FW Alexander Dexter
No. Position Player
14   DF Sito Sena
15   FW Luke Mort
17   MF Alec Townsend
18   MF Tim Townsend
19   MF Veljko Petković
20   MF Matt Bailey
21   MF Alex Peperak
22   DF Sebastian Serpa
24   MF Jackson Walti
25   DF Chad Stout
27   DF Anthony Harding
28   DF Tim Ekopne
32   GK Arie Ammann

Coaching staffEdit

Leo Bemis founded soccer as a varsity sport at Pitt

Current technical staffEdit

Position Staff
Athletic Director Heather Lyke
Head Coach Jay Vidovich
Assistant Coach Michael Behonick
Assistant Coach Rich Costanzo


Head coachesEdit

As of November 26, 2019 [37]
Name Nationality From To P W L D Honours
Leo Bemis   1954 1983 355 166 163 26
Joe Luxbacher   1984 2015 560 224 267 69 1992 Big East Coach of the Year

1995 Big East Coach of the Year [38]

Jay Vidovich   2015 Present 75 28 41 6 [39]


  1. ^ Color Palette (PDF). Pitt Athletics Brand Identity Manual. April 9, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  2. ^ Caldwell Jr., John T., ed. (1955). "Athletic Department". The 1955 Owl. The Students of the University of Pittsburgh. p. 318. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Vargo, Norm (1982). "Leo Bemis Behind Soccer From the Start at Pitt". In O'Brien, Jim (ed.). Hail to Pitt: A Sports History of the University of Pittsburgh. Wolfson Publishing Co. pp. 232–235. ISBN 0-916114-08-2.
  4. ^ Spurock, Charles, ed. (1954). "Soccer". The 1954 Owl. University of Pittsburgh. p. 330. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  5. ^ Jordan, Jimmy (September 26, 1958). "Pitt Soccer Coach Looks Ahead Despite Lack of Scholarships". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. p. 18. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  6. ^ Caldwell Jr., John T., ed. (1955). "Soccer". The 1955 Owl. The Students of the University of Pittsburgh. p. 337. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  7. ^ Jordan, Jimmy (November 22, 1956). "Pitt Soccer Team has United Nations Flavor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. p. 43. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Heilman, Sean (2000). "Soccer". In Sciullo, Jr., Sam (ed.). Pitt Stadium Memories 1925–1999. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. pp. 44–50. ASIN B0006RFHJQ.
  9. ^ NCAA Men's Division I Championship Brackets (PDF). NCAA.org. 2011. pp. 3–5. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  10. ^ "Soccer Stars Collide at Pitt". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, PA. November 21, 1976. p. D-4. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  11. ^ Wheatley, Tom (September 16, 1982). "Pitt's Soccer Coach Sends Program on a Youth Kick". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, PA. p. S-14. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Luxbacher succeeds Bemis". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. February 16, 1984. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  13. ^ Dangelo, Paul (June 14, 1984). "Luxbacher tackles job of rebuilding Pitt soccer program". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South. 5 (13). p. 12. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  14. ^ Varley, Teresa (1986). "Teamwork is the Key". 1986 Panther Prints. University of Pittsburgh. p. 255. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Naggar, Sara (2012). 2012 Big East Men's Soccer Media Guide. Big East Conference. pp. 47–57. Archived from the original on March 26, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
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  20. ^ The Olympic Sports Complex: Only Big Dreams (PDF), University of Pittsburgh, 2009, retrieved 2010-05-03
  21. ^ "Men's Soccer Sees First Action At Petersen Sports Complex". PittsburghPanthers.com. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
  22. ^ Hotchkiss, Greg, ed. (2012). 2012-13 Pitt Commons Section. University of Pittsburgh Department of Athletics Media Relations Office. p. C26. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  23. ^ Vella, Jeff (August 21, 2013). "Pitt soccer prepares for rigors of ACC". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
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  25. ^ "Barnes Taps Vidovich As New Pitt Men's Soccer Coach". PittsburghPanthers.com. December 4, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  26. ^ "Top 25 NCAA DI Men — National - Poll 11". United Soccer Coaches. November 12, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  27. ^ "Pitt is in! Panthers earn at-large bid to NCAA tournament, will host Lehigh in 1st Round on Thursday". Pittsburhg Soccer Now. November 18, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
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  32. ^ a b "Major Indoor Soccer League Players: Frank Bucci". Dave Morrison. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  33. ^ "14 Matt Langton". Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  34. ^ "Oh, What A Nwokocha!". Pennsylvania Stoners Official Line-Up Card June 15, 1980. June 15, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  35. ^ Dangelo, Paul (October 5, 1989). "Can Pitt soccer team help Mike Blatz reach his goal?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 18. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  36. ^ a b "2019 Men's Soccer Roster". pittsburghpanthers.com. University of Pittsburgh Athletics. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
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  38. ^ "Joe Luxbacher Profile". University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  39. ^ "Jay Vidovich Profile". University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved December 4, 2015.

External linksEdit