PROVIDENCE — Wilder Arboleda demonstrated the proper way of turning the page Thursday afternoon as Providence College routed St. Peter’s of New Jersey, 6-2, in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament.
Arboleda, a Pawtucket native and Tolman High graduate, tallied two goals as the Friars travel to face No. 16 Ohio State this Sunday afternoon in the second round.
“Basically we found a way to get it done. We were all business and had a lot of focus,” said Arboleda, mentioning his cheering section at Glay Field consisted of parents Wilman Arboleda and Niyereth Espinal and his two siblings, one of whom – Jeison Arboleda – is currently a senior at Tolman.
For Arboleda, his productive day came on the heels of missing a penalty kick that would have added another round to the shootout needed to decide Sunday’s Big East Championship against Louisville. Providence nearly succeeded in capturing its first conference title, tying Louisville, 1-1, in double overtime at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. The Cardinals claimed the title, prevailing 3-2 in penalty kicks.
Arboleda noted that the Friars were able to put the shootout loss to the Cardinals quickly behind them upon receiving word that they were tournament bound.
“We were so distraught (Sunday) that we wanted to find a way to get back,” he said. “(Yesterday) was a way for us to get ourselves back in a mode of winning and moving on. Obviously we were hoping for the best and expecting the worse (when the bids were released Monday), but we thought we had a good chance.”
Though it had been 15 matches since Arboleda, a sophomore midfielder for PC head coach Chaka Daley, had registered a goal, he was able to rediscover his early-season form of being opportunistic around the opposing team’s goal. He netted his fourth goal of the season to give the Friars a 2-0 lead in the 26th minute of the first half and then tallied his second goal of the match in the 54th minute, creating a 4-0 cushion.
Arboleda’s first goal resulted from a bad exchange of communication between two St. Peter’s defenders and goalkeeper Carlos Suarez. The Pawtucket native intercepted the touch pass to the Peacoack netminder and tucked the ball home at 25:24.
“My coaches are always telling me to take chances and expect (opponents) to make a mistake or two. I was basically following what they told me to do,” said Arboleda. “I happened to be running (towards the net) when (St. Peter’s) made the pass backwards and I was just put it in the net.
“It felt great and gave me a ton of confidence,” said Arboleda when asked how it felt to be back in the scoring column. “It’s just a good feeling.”
The second goal also sprung from Arboleda taking an aggressive route. PC striker Matt Marcin knocked down a Peacock clearing attempt, sending the ball over to the left flank to Arboleda. The Peacock defense froze, anticipating an offside infraction. The Friars kept playing as Arboleda unleashed a short side left shot from eight yards out that nestled into the right corner.
“(Marcin) made a really good play and the defenders sort of collided,” said Arboleda a few hours after the Friars recorded the program’s second-ever NCAA Tournament win. “All I had to do was tap it in the net. It was a great group effort and I was able to finish at the end.”
The road doesn’t get any easier for Arboleda and the Friars, hence why the former Tiger is taking the simplistic route when analyzing PC’s prospects against the Buckeyes.
“Hopefully our season goes on,” said Arboleda.