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.
|2019 Pittsburgh Panthers men's soccer team|
|University||University of Pittsburgh|
|Head coach||Jay Vidovich (4th season)|
|Stadium||Ambrose Urbanic Field |
|Colors||Blue and Gold|
|NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals|
|NCAA Tournament Round of 16|
|NCAA Tournament appearances|
|1962, 1965, 2019|
|Conference Regular Season championships|
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, created a pick-up team at the university which played Slippery Rock University to a 1-1 draw. Through 1953, Bemis continued coaching the team which competed intercollegiately as a non-varsity club sport. However, Bemis was able to convince then Pitt athletic director Tom Hamilton to elevate the club team to varsity status in 1954. Despite starting with no scholarships and no feeder system in place to recruit players, Pitt's first team went 8-1 in 1954, and by 1955, the program had its first All-American selection, Jerome Bressanelli. 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, and even various high schools, with occasional games played at Pitt Stadium, which at the time was primarily reserved for Pitt's football team.
In 1961, the soccer program received funding to provide its first scholarships, and in 1962, Pitt earned its first bid to the NCAA soccer championship tournament, where it lost to Maryland, 3-4. 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. Beginning in 1970, Pitt began play in the Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Soccer Conference (also known as the West Penn Intercollegiate Soccer Conference, or WPISC), a conference that Leo Bemis helped to found and in which he would eventually lead Pitt to a conference championship in 1981. 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.
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. Pitt moved from the West Penn conference to the Big East Conference for the 1985 season. In that first season in the Big East, Pitt finished atop the Big East South Division with an undefeated 4-0 record 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. 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 set a program record for number of wins, including victories over 11th-ranked St. John's and 4th-ranked Rutgers. The 1995 team lost in the Big East tournament championship game to St. John's, but finished the season ranked 22nd in the nation in the final Coaches' Poll.
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. 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. 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. 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. The team also uses the on-campus Cost Sports Center for indoor practice during inclement weather.
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. Luxbacher retired as coach following the 2015 season. Jay Vidovich, a former national collegiate coach of the year, was hired as Pitt's head soccer coach in 2015, and led Pitt to a top 25 ranking and an NCAA tournament appearance in 2019.
Awards and honorsEdit
- 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. Players all garnered multiple Big East Scholar-Athlete Awards with over 100 players being named Big East Academic All-Stars.
Pitt has had at least 22 former soccer players go on to play professionally.
Updated August 20, 2019
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Current technical staffEdit
|Athletic Director||Heather Lyke|
|Head Coach||Jay Vidovich|
|Assistant Coach||Michael Behonick|
|Assistant Coach||Rich Costanzo|
- As of November 26, 2019 
|Joe Luxbacher||1984||2015||560||224||267||69||1992 Big East Coach of the Year
1995 Big East Coach of the Year 
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