Pangonis making a difference for men’s soccer

With 83 minutes gone in an Oct. 7 match at Owen T. Carroll Field, Seton Hall and DePaul remained knotted at 1-1. The game seemed destined for overtime.

That all changed, however, when a header found the foot of Lukas Pangonis, who knocked home the game-winner from point-blank range to give the Pirates a thrilling 2-1 win.

Photo via SHU Athletics

This was uncharted territory for Pangonis, a defenseman and one that was 4,973 minutes in the making. The center-back makes most of his impact on the defensive side of the pitch, being rewarded with back-to-back Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors earlier this month.It gives me more confidence,”

It gives me more confidence,” Pangonis said of the honor. “I’m happy to get this award. I think it’s very important.”Pangonis, a senior from Lithuania, has come a long way since arriving on campus in 2014. He began, as many foreign prospects do, faced with the arduous task of adjusting to life in the United States, along with the hurdle of overcoming the obvious language barrier. Head coach Gerson Echeverry notes that Pangonis struggled mightily with these two things at first.

Pangonis, a senior from Lithuania, has come a long way since arriving on campus in 2014. He began, as many foreign prospects do, faced with the arduous task of adjusting to life in the United States, along with the hurdle of overcoming the obvious language barrier. Head coach Gerson Echeverry notes that Pangonis struggled mightily with these two things at first.

Head coach Gerson Echeverry notes that Pangonis struggled mightily with these two things at first.

“We knew what type of player he was because of his physical attributes and some of his technical attributes,” Echeverry said. “What you don’t know is the acclimation part; how he is going to acclimate to college life, to being so far away from home. Sometimes those are unknowns when you’re dealing with foreign kids.”Pangonis has made significant strides since his freshman season in which he appeared in 15 games. The improvement from then to now has been noticed not just by the coaching staff, but by Pangonis himself.

Pangonis has made significant strides since his freshman season in which he appeared in 15 games. The improvement from then to now has been noticed not just by the coaching staff, but by Pangonis himself.

“I think I’ve started playing consistently,” Pangonis said. “We limit our mistakes in the back so our team has a chance to win the game, and we don’t have to come from behind all the time.Pangonis, now far beyond the initial struggles of adjusting to college life and collegiate soccer, has been a leader in the back-line in the eyes of Echeverry.

Pangonis, now far beyond the initial struggles of adjusting to college life and collegiate soccer, has been a leader in the back-line in the eyes of Echeverry.

“I think that he has solidified a lot of things in the back,” Echeverry said. “I think a lot of his leadership qualities, what he does on the field and off the field, after practice, has had an impact.”

This season has been his most impressive to date, appearing in all 12 matches and playing an integral part in helping the Pirates hold a strong defensive front amidst a merry-go-round of goalkeepers in net. Whether it has been Elliot Munford, Steven Catudal or Peyton Elder, the Pirates defense has stayed consistent, as the team has allowed more than two goals only three times this season.

This consistency has allowed the Pirates to challenge and overcome some of their rivals in the Big East, such as Creighton and DePaul.

“I think that was very important because we got six points in Big East,” Pangonis said. “Overall, the team started believing that we can make it to the tournament. Of course, our goal is to win Big East, but first we have to make the tournament.”

The Pirates are one of three teams with six points in Big East play and will need that strong defense to continue its form if they want to make the Big East Tournament.

The next couple of games will prove to be a test for the Pirates, as they take on Big East power Georgetown, an 8-4 Butler team and a 7-4-2 Xavier team who will present Seton Hall with some matchup problems.

A lot of the burden will fall upon Pangonis, but if the senior is up to the task as he has been for most of the season, he and his Pirate teammates can expect more winning soccer in 2017.

Matt Ambrose can be reached at matthew.ambrose1@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @mambrose97.