Pirates prepare for Panthers
The men’s soccer team will host the Pittsburgh Panthers at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Owen T. Carroll Field followed by a non-conference road game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at NJIT.
“We are positive,” head coach Gerson Echeverry said. “We like our chances. It’s a must win. Pittsburgh is a team to-wards the bottom of the pack and we have to overtake them.”
The teams met last season in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates lost 2-0. Echeverry said in order to beat the Panthers, the Pi- rates must win the possession battle and the counter-attack.
“Right now they (Pittsburgh), are a very physical team that’s defensively organized,” Echeverry said. “I think we need to maintain possession of the ball, be organized on the counter attack, make sure there are no surprises there and then I think we should be fine.”
The Panthers hold a record of 6-3-2, but they have yet to win a conference match. The Panthers have recently been slumping as they dropped their last three home games.
After facing Pittsburgh at home, the Pirates will head to Newark, N.J. where they will face a hot NJIT team. The Highlanders have won five of their last six games.
Although it is not a conference matchup, Echeverry said it is still an important game.
“Every game at this point is important,” Echeverry said. “There is no room for let downs right now. NJIT has a winning record and we know that they have some fire power that can generate some goals, and that’s something we have to be careful with.”
Echeverry said there is a major benefit of a non-conference game.
“It gives us a break between Big East playing,” Echeverry said. “And can maybe even be a game to rest some guys and give others some opportunity to see where we stand.”
The NJIT Highlanders are currently 7-5 overall, with a home record of 4-2.
NJIT senior forward Franco Gamero was named National D1 Independent Player of the Week, after his performance in the Highlanders’ last two games.
The Pirates red shirt senior Michael Kuzan was named Big East Goalkeeper of the Week after he set a career high in saves in back-to-back games after goalkeeper Kevin Bonder was too sick to play against Delaware.
“I think a lot of goalkeeper training and hours of practice helped me,” Kuzan said. “We usually get out there an hour or two hours before practice and go through a lot of stuff.”
Kuzan also commented on his extra chance to play this season.
“Playing again this year is the most positive thing,” Kuzan said. “I wasn’t supposed to, so getting another chance to play is really great.”
Courtney Hnasko can be reached at Courtney.hnasko@ student.shu.edu