PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Cleveland State University men's soccer team used three second-half goals to rally from a halftime deficit and defeat host Pittsburgh, 4-3, Monday evening at a warm and cloudy Ambrose Urbanic Field.
Sophomore defender Ben Hryszko scored the game-winner in the 85th minute, but there was plenty of action before the final tally. The win was the third in as many matches for the Vikings, who won their second match on the road against a Power Five side in four days. It was also Cleveland State's fifth straight win in the series against Pittsburgh.
"I was extremely pleased with our effort tonight," head coach Kirk Harwat said. "To go on the road and get a win against an ACC opponent, especially a quality team like Pitt, is a great accomplishment. Our guys showed character and had to dig deep at times to get the victory. After missing a PK to equalize, we didn't stop. This has to be the mentality going forward."
It was the first loss this season for Pitt against an unranked team as the Panthers sat among the top 30 in the NCAA's RPI rankings entering the match.
Harwat made two changes to the starting XI from the side that defeated Ohio State, 2-0, this past Friday. Sophomore Zack Kluever was called upon at forward for his first start of the season while senior Gianluca DiFranco was inserted into an advanced midfield role. Seven Vikings were credited with points in the match.
After CSU took the first two shots of the match within the opening six minutes, the Panthers scored on their first shot of the evening. In the ninth minute, a Viking attempted a long ball from the back that was cut out in the midfield. Pitt soon played a long ball ahead where the attacker gathered and chipped the goalkeeper coming out to challenge.
Cleveland State would equalize fewer than eight minutes later, beginning with a save by redshirt freshman Alex Gyerman. Gyerman made a long pass to senior Noah Pio on the left flank. Pio then found junior Gabriel Pewu's run up the middle of the field. Pewu's cross was blocked, but he tried a second time, and the ball got through bodies to sophomore Zack Kluever near the goal line. Kluever took a couple touches to create a better angle and ripped a shot to the far post.
The Panthers pulled back ahead in the 28th minute when they got the ball down the left flank and played a cross to the center of the box, which was headed home into the left side of the net.
The longest stretch in the match without a goal was ended in the 67th minute when junior Vlad Jandric served the ball into the box. Senior Antonio Burgoa ran on to it and made an exquisite header to the far post to equalize the proceedings.
Under 10 minutes later, CSU switched fields from the right to the left to freshman Ryan Kolonick. Kolonick played a short pass to Pio, who crossed the ball into the box. Pewu got to about 8-10 yards out and headed into the empty far post as the goalkeeper came out late to challenge for it.
Pittsburgh tied the match for the final time in the 80th minute when a cross from just outside the left edge of the box was played to the far post and headed straight in.
The final goal of the match was the only one to come on a set piece as a defender came up big for the Vikings in the 85th minute. Pio's corner kick from the left flag was played to the far post, where Hryszko calmly headed it straight in.
The Vikings were able to see out the quality win as neither of the Panthers' two late shot attempts were on target.
Gyerman tied his season high with seven saves while making his third straight start.
It was the second straight match with a goal for Kluever after he tallied the first of his career Friday night. Burgoa's goal was his first since his rookie campaign. Pewu's goal was his team-leading fourth of the season, and seventh of his career, while Hryszko's was the second of his career.
Jandric notched his first-career assist Monday while Kolonick's assist was his first-career point. Pio's helper was his team-leading fifth, the 12th of his career. He now has points in 12 of the past 22 matches.
CSU has scored multiple goals in each of its past three matches.
Cleveland State will return to Horizon League action this Saturday, Oct. 13, as it returns home to host IUPUI.