Men’s soccer shuts out Columbia, 1-0


Sophomore Jose Luis Sena Arbona (14) scored the only goal during Pitt’s 1-0 victory over Columbia. (Photo by Bader Abdulmajeed | Staff Photographer)

By Dominic Campbell, Staff Writer

Despite dominating offensively, the Pitt men’s soccer team found itself engaged in a scoreless stalemate through most of Tuesday night’s drizzly game at Ambrose Urbanic Field. Sophomore defender Jose Luis Sena Arbona finally provided the Panthers with the deciding goal in the 78th minute, sealing a 1-0 victory over Columbia.

The win was a rebound after last Friday night’s 2-0 loss to No. 11 Virginia and marked the second consecutive year Pitt beat Columbia 1-0. Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich knew this game was going to be tough coming in because of how successful the Lions have been in the past and also because the weather made the game start 20 minutes earlier than scheduled at 6:40 p.m.

“It was a hard match,” Vidovich said. “We had to work very hard to get our goal that came in at the last part of the game. I’m proud of the effort and proud of getting the result.”

In the 21st minute, sophomore forward Edward Kizza fired the team’s first clean look on goal — a hard dribbler from the top of the box — but Columbia senior goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira dove down low for the stop.

Castanheira’s heroics became a common theme, as the goalie would use all 6 feet 3 inches of his frame to make six saves by the end of the contest, single-handedly keeping the Lions in the game. Castanheira came to the rescue again three minutes later, clearing a potential rebound chance out of the box after a corner kick.

Pitt continued its nonstop assault on the goal, but Columbia responded with an effective “bend but don’t break” strategy. The Panthers peppered the net throughout the remainder of the first half, recording three more corner kicks and three more shots. The Lions just kept getting stops, either in the form of deflections by defenders or saves from Castanheira.

Pitt’s last corner kick presented a quality scoring chance four minutes before halftime, but Columbia stifled the attempt to take a 0-0 draw into the break.

The Panthers were far and away the better team offensively in the first half as they had five shots — two on goal — and four corner kicks compared to the Lions’ one shot and one corner.

Lightning soared across the sky and rain began to pour down as the second half got started, but the refs initially turned a blind eye. Senior midfielder Joshua Gaspari had the first chance for Pitt, but it was blocked into Castanheira’s hands in the 49th minute.

Columbia started to gain some momentum when first-year midfielder Sebastian Gunbeyi had his shot blocked in the 52nd minute. Sophomore Beto Carrillo then ventured a shot in the 53rd minute, but it was an easy save for first-year goalkeeper Johan Penaranda.

Heavy rain started around the 53rd minute and with lightning strikes nearby, the game was originally delayed for 30 minutes. With the incessant storm conditions, however, it ended up being closer to an hour before the game finally resumed.

Coming out of the delay, the Panthers seemed to regain their momentum and dictated the pace for the rest of the game.

A cross by senior defender Tom Moxham forced Castanheira to punch it away in the 54th minute. Gaspari had another great chance to take a lead one minute later but his attempt sailed right of the goal.

Columbia saw a rare scoring opportunity in the 58th minute when junior John Denis took a shot on goal, but it was an easy catch for Penaranda. That marked the last save Penaranda had to make all game as the Pitt defense held solid throughout the night.

Castanheira continued to be a problem for Pitt and served as the main reason Columbia didn’t lose by three or four goals. In the 72nd minute, he made two great saves to keep the Lions in the game. First, he had to punch away another cross by Moxham and then he made a diving save to stop a fantastic bouncing header from Kizza.

In the 78th minute, the Panthers finally made the breakthrough that they’d been so close to all game. From a corner taken by Javi Perez, the ball bounced in the box, then found sophomore defender Jose Luis Sena Arbona, who launched a header that zipped past Castanheira and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 Panthers.

Perez said it was great to connect with Sena Arbona, who also hails from Spain and who he has known since they were 13, to get the winning goal.

“We’ve known each other from a long time ago and we’re very good friends,” Perez said. “We hang out in Spain together … We’re very lucky to have him join us this year and it’s great. I told him to go to second post and that I’d put the ball there. And he did, and we scored, so it’s fun!

The Lions only managed two more shots the rest of the game — a header from first-year midfielder Andrew Stevens that went high in the 80th minute and another shot from Carrillo that went high and hit the scoreboard.

Pitt had one more chance to pad its lead when Alexander Dexter took a shot on in the 90th minute, but Castanheira saved it. Within 30 seconds, the game was over.

Afterward, Sena Arbona spoke about using the victory to spark some momentum for the season.

“We have to try to do our best and focus on hard work,” Sena Arbona said. “We have to continue in the same length and improve some things.”

Pitt will look to get consecutive wins as they take on Clemson this Friday at 7 p.m. at Ambrose Urbanic Field. The team will wrap up its ongoing five-game home stand when they take on Cleveland State next Monday.