The stumbling Hoyas have finally regained their footing on the pitch, defeating Pittsburgh on its home ground and earning their first victory since Sept. 26.

The difference between the two teams came in the form of an early goal – just six minutes from the starting whistle – off the cleats of Hoya top scorer and senior Peter Grasso. The Hoya forward slid in a long delivery from the left wing, courtesy of junior midfielder Scott Larrabee, past the keeper, whose diving effort could not stop the ball from hitting the back of the net to put the Blue and Gray in the lead.

“Getting this eighth win couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for us,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said in a press release. “We are now still in contention for the first or second position in our division in the conference with a few games left on the schedule. Picking up three points on the road with these conditions keeps us where we want to be.”

Grasso’s fifth goal of the season was the solitary score of the match – but not because of a lack of effort from the Hoya marksmen, who significantly stepped their game up from the level of play seen in the past few weeks. The boys in Blue and Gray were dangerously accurate, and were it not for an excellent performance by the Panthers’ keeper, senior Jordan Marks – the 6-foot-3 giant made a career-high 14 saves – the Hoyas would have won by a much wider margin.

Of the combined 21 shots taken by the whole Hoya team, just six were off-target. Grasso’s second attempt was on target, as were three of Larrabee’s six attempts. The sophomore duo of midfielder Seth C’deBaca and forward Chandler Diggs both recorded four shots on goal, not a single one of which strayed from the path of the goal.

Although the Hoyas outshot the home team 21-4, a significant part was played by the man between the posts on the Hoyas’ defensive end of the pitch. Sophomore goalkeeper Matt Brutto, who has yet to be scored on in 650 minutes on the pitch and who has not lost a match in goal for the Hoyas this season so far, is to be credited with another stellar performance commandeering the back four, who tamed the Panthers in front of their home crowd.

The Hoyas are now up to 8-3-3 on the season, with a 3-2-3 Big East record. The Blue and Gray are still in contention for the top two bye-spots for the Big East tournament, and if the Hoyas manage to gain 12 points in their last four matches of the season, they may well be in contention for the spot they have been eyeing since the preseason, and indeed the past decade – a place in the NCAAs.

The Hoyas will enjoy the comfort of their home pitch Saturday when they take on West Virginia on North Kehoe. They have lost only one match on their field – a 2-1 against the University of South Florida in mid-September – and the game against the Mountaineers will be the perfect time for the Blue and Gray to start a new winning streak and to try to push for some postseason action.

Kickoff against the Mountaineers will be at noon.

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