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Pitt soccer prepares for rigors of ACC

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

After going 4-30-3 in Big East games the past four years, it's hard to imagine things getting much tougher for the Pitt men's soccer team.

But they might.

The Panthers are joining the ACC, the conference that has produced four of the past six national champions and is at least on par with the Big East.

“I don't think it'll be a big change,” 30th-year coach Joe Luxbacher said. “I have heard the ACC is a bit more technical. They're very direct, very physical, have good athleticism. But good soccer players are good soccer players.”

Luxbacher said he thinks he added more good players in the offseason, finding a mix of transfers and freshmen to complement 15 returners.

Among notable newcomers are freshman forward/midfielder Romeo Charron, a member of the Swiss Under-18 national team, and senior forward/midfielder Chris Davis, a transfer from Gardner-Webb who was second-team All-Big South as a sophomore.

“Athletically, we should be good,” Luxbacher said. “(Our) skill level has gone up. In all respects, potentially we're a better team than we were a year ago.”

Pitt went 6-9-2 last season but 0-8 in the Big East. The Panthers' first taste of the ACC comes Sept. 6, when they visit N.C. State.

The jump to the ACC is more daunting for the Pitt women, who went 7-10-2 last season and 2-6-2 in the Big East.

The new ACC includes the queen of women's soccer, 22-time national champion North Carolina, along with 2010 national champion Notre Dame and five other preseason top-25 teams.

Pitt's ACC opener is Sept. 12 against Boston College.

— Jeff Vella

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