The Vikings put up a fierce fight against the University of Pittsburgh Thursday evening in their NCAA First Round game, ultimately falling short 2-1.
After emerging victorious as the Horizon League champions and snatching their one way ticket to the NCAA Division I tournament for the first time in ten seasons, the Green and White were put to the test in their first tournament match.
Pittsburgh marked the scoreboard first in the 27th minute as Bertin Jacquesson scored a give-and-go from Michael Sullivan Josh Luchini. The teams continued to face off in a fierce back-and-forth until the conclusion of the first half as the Panthers clung onto their 1-0 lead. The Panthers out-shot the Vikings 8-2 as well.
As the second half trudged along, The Pitt netted their second goal as Jacquesson finished off a ball from Rodrigo Almeida and Guilherme Feitosa, securing a 2-0 lead by the 76th minute.
However, Cleveland State was not going down without a fight. Midfielder Hector Gomez scored CSU’s lone goal of the match in the 88th minute to trail 2-1.
With two minutes remaining, Cleveland State charged to tie the score but ultimately fell short against Pitt with a diligent score of 2-1 in the opening round match. The Vikings were out-shot by a comprehensive 15-6, though managed a 4-3 lead in corner kicks.
Midfielders Albert Portas and Gomez led the team in shots with two apiece and goalie Omeed Naeemy worked hard at the net, managing five saves through the whole match.
Despite their loss in the NCAA opening match, the team led a strong season with elevated spirits.
The Vikings dominated the Horizon League, with four team players—Jannis Schmidt, Pablo Kawecki, Albert Portas, and Bojan Kolevski—receiving academic all-league honors and the whole team taking home the Horizon League championship last Saturday.
Although the season has come to an end, Cleveland State men’s soccer proved to be a fierce opponent on the pitch with unshakeable spirit and moments of triumph.