Mars grads part of a new era for Pitt men's soccer
College Football Videos
This year marks a new beginning for the Pitt men's soccer team.
The challenge, however, isn't any easier.
The Panthers began play in the Atlantic Coast Conference this fall after the university's sports programs left the Big East. While the move is exciting for the men's soccer squad, it knows the road remains difficult.
A pair of local players — Mars product Ryan McKenzie and Butler's Cory Werth — are ushering in the program's new era. They're looking forward to something new after the Panthers closed Big East play winless (0-8) last year.
“The past three years, we've struggled record-wise. This year, we're all more excited than ever,” McKenzie said. “We have a fresh start in the ACC. We have a good group of returning guys and new guys we're excited about. We have high expectations for ourselves, and we expect to do a lot better this season.
“The competition is not supposed to change too much. We played four top-10 teams last year. Georgetown played for the national championship last year, and Notre Dame and Syracuse came with us to the ACC. The quality is just as good, so it shouldn't be that much of an adjustment.”
The ACC features North Carolina and Notre Dame, which were ranked first and second, respectively, in last week's NCAA Division I poll. In addition, Wake Forest (9th), Clemson (13th) and Maryland (17th) were ranked.
“It's been pretty great that we've been able to experience going through the Big East and now the ACC,” Werth said. “We've had the chance to play some of the top teams in the country in UConn, Notre Dame and now Wake Forest, Maryland, North Carolina and Clemson. It's great to prove ourselves against them.”
Pitt (0-2-2) was looking for its first win after four matches. The Panthers opened ACC play with a 1-0 overtime loss at North Carolina State and suffered a 2-1 home setback to Boston College.
McKenzie, a senior, played in 44 matches before this year. McKenzie, who helped lead Mars to a pair of WPIAL championships, had assists in the past two seasons, but hopes to break through on the scoresheet this year.
“I like to run with the ball and go at people,” he said. “I like setting people up. I've had a little trouble finding the net. Hopefully, I can turn that around.”
Werth, a redshirt junior, made his Pitt debut last season after walking onto the team. He scored a goal against Providence and added a pair of assists in 16 appearances.
“I am happy the coaches here have given me the opportunity to be the best I can,” he said. “I am hoping this year to put a couple in and really contribute to the squad.”
Werth is listed as a forward, but plays more of an outside midfield position.
“It's a balance. Really, I am one of the first players to step to the ball on the defensive side. On the offensive side, I am looking to get in on any crosses and always making diagonal runs and trying to break the defense. It's a lot of running. It's a lot of fun.”
Before McKenzie and Werth joined forces at Pitt, they had crossed paths only a few times during their high school careers.
“It's pretty awesome. We didn't really know each other too well. We played against each other a number of years in club soccer, but in high school, Mars was Double-A and Butler was Triple-A,” Werth said. “It's great two local guys can come and play on the same college team together.”
The two have become good friends and play together on the same summer squads.
“We have probably the best group of guys since I have been here, just based on work ethic and mentality,” Werth said. “The first couple games, everyone was getting to know each other. I think we're really starting to come together.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers rookie says Sam, his former roommate, has changed
- Fire victim’s ex-boyfriend jumps from Tarentum Bridge
- Minister quick to share time, talents, love
- Rossi: Buying trust is a must for Pirates
- ‘Guardians’ a galaxy of summer fun
- Steelers aim to create more turnovers this year with speedier defense
- Turbine sites near properties in Fayette County threatened
- Letters won’t be used as evidence in North Union man’s homicide trial
- Latrobe woman charged in deadly standoff claims coercion
- West Mifflin Legion falls into elimination bracket
- South Hills sweeps Synergy Group in DNL playoffs