For the second-consecutive weekend, the Cavaliers have picked up a huge victory against a top-10 ranked ACC opponent on the road. Junior forward Philip Horton scored two goals and the Virginia men's soccer team went on the road and defeated No. 10 Pitt 3-1 on Friday night in Pittsburgh.
Last Saturday in Syracuse, it was a spectacular goal from Leo Afonso in the 85th minute that broke a scoreless tie and gave the Cavaliers a 1-0 victory over the third-ranked Orange. This time around, it did not take nearly as long for the Hoos to get on the board first. In fact, it took no time at all, as UVA found the back of the net just 61 seconds into the match.
Leo Afonso used a brilliant dribble move to get the ball deep into the box on the left side before sending a pass into Philip Horton, who put his shot on goal, but Pitt goalkeeper Joe van der Sar made a sliding save. The ball came out to Daniel Mangarov, who took a shot that was again blocked on the goal line by a Pitt defender. But once again, the rebound fell fortuitously to the Cavaliers and Horton was in the right place at the right time to sweep the ball easily into the back of the net.
Expectedly, the Panthers did not roll over despite absorbing the early punch from the Cavaliers. In the 28th minute, Pitt senior midfielder Valentin Noel was left alone just outside the box and delivered a right-footed strike that fit inside the far post just past the diving arms of Holden Brown for the equalizer.
UVA outshot Pitt 10-6 in the opening half, but three first-half saves by Joe van der Sar and two saves by Holden Brown kept the match tied at 1-1 at halftime.
Not content to play for the draw on the road against a top 10 opponent, Virginia executed a brilliant series of passes in the 61st minute that produced a quality look for freshman Reese Miller. Philip Horton moved the ball up the right side into the box and sent a pass to Leo Afonso, who put a nice touch on the ball to move it along to Reese Miller. Striking the ball with the outside of his left foot, Miller sent in a perfect shot that spun around van der Sar and inside the far post for his first career goal.
Now leading 2-1, the Hoos kept their foot on the gas. In the 73rd minute, Leo Afonso put some pressure on a Pitt defender that caused an errant pass. The ball flew dangerously towards the Pitt goal and Philip Horton raced towards it and needed just one touch to send a shot past van der Sar and into the back left corner of the net for his second goal of the match to give Virginia a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Virginia defense played well to hold the Pitt defense to only one goal, but the Panthers still had a number of dangerous scoring opportunities in the second half. None of the chances materialized into goals thanks to an outstanding performance in goal from Holden Brown, who made six saves in the match, including four in the second half. Pitt had six corner kicks in the second half, but Brown and the Cavalier defense stood tall and kept the Panthers out of the back of the net to seal the 3-1 win.
With the win, Virginia moves to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in ACC play. For the moment, the victory also moves the Cavaliers into first place in the ACC Coastal division.
Up next, UVA plays a third-consecutive ranked opponent in No. 13 Denver on Tuesday at 6pm back in Charlottesville.