PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Pitt sophomore P.J. Tasser bumped up a weight to 184 pounds and beat ninth-ranked Ben Clymer to help the No. 9 Panthers knock off No. 22 Hofstra on Friday at the Fitzgerald Field House.
It was the third win against a top-25 team this season for the Panthers (13-1) and their 10th consecutive win overall. No. 13 Tyler Nauman, No. 33 Donnie Tasser, No. 21 Ethan Headlee, No. 32 Andy Vaughan and No. 4 Matt Wilps also had victories for the Panthers against the Pride.
With the score tied 12-12 after Headlee’s forfeit win at 174, the Pitt coaching staff made a last-second change in the lineup, inserting Tasser at 184 pounds and bumping the remaining probable starters up a weight class. The move worked to perfection as Tasser helped the Panthers close out the meet with four consecutive wins.
Tasser faced a tough challenge in Clymer, who had just moved up the rankings with a win against then-No. 3 Steve Bosak of Cornell, but proved to the crowd, and possibly himself, that he could compete with his highly-touted opponent with his performance in the first period.
“I went in a little bit nervous, but once I got out there and I started getting after it, I could tell I could take him down,” Tasser said. “Right around the end of the first period after I was in on a couple of shots I turned it on and it all worked out.”
The match was scoreless after one period, but Tasser was clearly the aggressor. Trailing 1-0 after an escape by Clymer in the second period, Tasser chose neutral, avoiding Clymer’s best skill set by not selecting bottom. With less than 20 seconds on the clock, he scored the winning takedown on the edge of the circle and rode out the final seconds for the victory.
“It was great for P.J. to get a win like that,” Pitt assistant coach Jason Peters said. “It was an opportunity for him to help the team and he came through.”
Tasser has now beaten two nationally-ranked wrestlers in a row. He posted a decision against then-No. 33 Mike Dessino — the returning EWL champion — in Pitt’s win vs. Bloomsburg.
Vaughan followed Tasser with a major decision at 197 pounds to clinch the match. The redshirt senior has won 12 of his last 13 matches.
Giving up a good 50 pounds, Wilps won by decision at heavyweight, putting away any doubt of the outcome even if the Pride wrestler had made weight at 174. Wilps improved to 14-0 in dual meets this season.
The meet didn’t start off too well for the Panthers as they lost the first three bouts and found themselves down 9-0. Nauman, the lone All-American on the Pitt roster, put his team back on track with a 4-3 decision against No. 17 Justin Accordino at 149. Nauman, who had beaten Accordino in overtime earlier this season, used a takedown and two escapes to take a 4-2 lead into the final period and held on in a near must-win situation for the Panthers.
Donnie Tasser made it two in a row for Pitt with his 9-3 decision at 157 pounds, cutting the Hofstra lead to 9-6. Tasser trailed 3-2 part way through the second period but scored the final seven points of the bout.
Even some of Pitt’s losses were solid showings. No. 20 Shelton Mack nearly had a fall in the first sudden victory before falling short in the second tiebreaker in a 6-5 loss to No. 26 Jamie Franco. No. 33 Tyler Wilps came up just short in his attempt to reverse an earlier loss to No. 17 P.J. Gillespie, dropping a 5-4 decision in overtime.
No. 16 Anthony Zanetta saw his perfect dual meet season come to an end with a 6-1 loss to Hofstra’s No. 12 Steve Bonanno at 125 pounds. Still, Zanetta is the favorite to win the Eastern Wrestling League tournament and is a lock for the national tournament with his 24-3 overall record. He has won 14 of his last 15 matches.