Men’s soccer loses to Pittsburgh

Kizza’s two goals eliminate Cavaliers from ACC Tournament


Freshman forward Daryl Dike, who entered the match with five goals, started in the game against Pittsburgh.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

The No. 7 Virginia men’s soccer team (9-2-3, 3-2-2 ACC) lost 2-0 at home against Pittsburgh (7-10, 2-6 ACC) Wednesday night in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Pittsburgh sophomore forward Edward Kizza, the ACC’s leading scorer, tallied both goals for the Panthers in the second half to eliminate Virginia from the tournament.

Virginia freshman forward Cabrel Happi Kamseu, the Cavaliers’ co-leading scorer with five goals this year, started the match on the bench, despite starting 12 of 14 regular season games. Fellow freshman forward Daryl Dike, who also entered the match with five goals, started in his place.

The Cavaliers had the first shot on target of the match, when sophomore wingback Irakoze Donasiyano fired a loose ball on goal that was saved and held by Pittsburgh freshman goalkeeper Johan Penaranda.

The first yellow card of the game was awarded in the 13th minute to Pittsburgh senior defender Robby Dambrot for a tackle on freshman defender Aboubacar Keita that left him on the ground long enough to stop play.

On a Virginia free kick in the 20th minute, Virginia sophomore midfielder Joe Bell lofted a long ball into the box over the head of any Cavalier player, which ended up going wide right of goal. However, to many in the crowd at Klöckner Stadium, the ball seemed to bounce into the back of the net, eliciting cheers from Virginia fans.

Pitt sophomore midfielder Marcony Pimentel was fouled just on the edge of the Cavalier box in the 22nd minute, but hit the ensuing free kick straight into the Virginia wall. After the free kick, Pittsburgh captain and senior midfielder Javi Perez was given a yellow card for some very audible expletive-laden directions to Kizza and was nearly sent off for arguing the decision with the referee.

Virginia sophomore center back Henry Kessler was fouled by Dambrot in the 36th minute, but Dambrot was not given his second yellow by the referee despite vehement protests by the Virginia crowd, as well as Bell. Dambrot was subbed off shortly after for Pittsburgh for senior defender Tom Moxham. Dike also came out at the same stoppage, replaced by senior forward Kennedy Nwabia. 

Virginia dominated the first half, with Pittsburgh able to do little in the attack besides lob long balls to Kizza, who had to contend with the three Cavalier center backs: Keita, Kessler, and senior Prosper Figbe. At the half, Virginia had five shots to Pittsburgh’s two.

In the 52nd minute, Donasiyano earned a breakaway thanks to an error by a Pittsburgh defender, but Penaranda charged off his line to stop him and forced Donasiyano into a chip that sailed wide right of the goal. 

Kizza broke the 0-0 deadlock with Pittsburgh’s first shot on target in the 62nd minute. He played a 1-2 with freshman right winger Chandler Vaughn and surged past the Cavalier defense, scoring on Shutler for his 14th goal of the season.

In the 70th minute, Virginia freshman forward Daniel Steedman had a ball kicked into his face by Pimentel, who earned a yellow card for his actions.

As the second half went on, Kizza, Vaughn and sophomore left winger Alexander Dexter’s pressing of the Cavalier center backs became increasingly effective, limiting the amount of time they had to make clean passes and forcing them into long balls up the field. 

Vaughn nearly made it 2-0 for Pittsburgh in the 79th minute, but his shot was knocked out of bounds by Keita, earning a corner kick for the Panthers. 

Though the ensuing corner was initially cleared by the Virginia defense, Pittsburgh would still add to their lead. The ball fell to Dexter at the top of the box, who fired another shot on goal that was blocked by Kessler, then the rebound fell to Kizza, who put his second goal of the day and his 15th of the year past Shutler.

Late in the match, sophomore midfielder Aaron James and sophomore winger Spencer Patton came on as substitutes for Crofts and Donasiyano, respectively, as the Cavaliers unsuccessfully chased the two goals they needed to equalize.

The No. 11-seeded Panthers will advance to the quarterfinals on Nov. 4 at fourth-seeded Duke, who had a first round bye in the tournament. Despite the upset, the Cavaliers will likely still advance to the NCAA Tournament, which will begin on Nov. 15.

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