Columbia’s men’s soccer team defeated Manhattan 2-0 at home to notch its first victory of the season.
In the battle between a Columbia team with no goals scored in two games and a Manhattan team that only scored one goal in three games, both teams struggled to convert scoring chances for 45 minutes. Despite dominating possession for most of the first half, Columbia only generated three shots while surrendering five.
At halftime, Lions head coach Kevin Anderson decided to make some familiar tactical adjustments. “We just tucked our forwards in and had them in different starting positions,” Anderson said, “which then gave us an opportunity to move our flank midfielders... and by doing that, it gave us an opportunity to start penetrating centrally.”
The moves paid off immediately, with two goals in the first seven minutes of the second half that would prove to be all the Lions needed.
Junior midfielder Henning Sauerbier, who had come off in the first half and returned to begin the second, led the Lions’ march to their first goal of the season. Two and a half minutes into the half, he corralled the ball into the right half of the Jaspers’ penalty area and pushed it around the defender, but was hauled down with no call.
Just a minute later, attacking from the left side, he got control of the ball and this time drew the penalty kick after jumping between two Manhattan defenders and getting knocked down. Senior midfielder and co-captain Nick Scott buried the penalty for the Lions’ first goal of the season.
“To be honest, I knew where I was putting it. I knew what I was doing. I was fully confident. I’ve put it away plenty of times before,” Scott said. “So I was just thankful that Henning managed to show a bit of skill.”
The attack off the left flank was characteristic of the Light Blue’s strategy for most of the first half and the beginning of the second. Scott, junior midfielder and co-captain David Najem, sophomore forward Greg Gudis, and freshman defender Bryce Terrill—who was one of four Lions to play the entire match—frequently worked together to get the ball into the left corner but weren’t always able to maintain possession and deliver clean crosses.
Three minutes after the goal, the Lions earned a corner kick, and Scott’s cross from the right corner toward the near post was headed into the top corner of the goal by senior defender/midfielder Quentin Grigsby.
Notwithstanding a couple of scares—notably an ill-advised dribble to the middle from sophomore defender Jack Gagne, who lost the ball but was bailed out by a well-timed challenge from senior defender Ifiok Akpandak—the Lions held on comfortably.
“I think we showed a lot of character,” Anderson said. “I think that the guys really followed a game plan tonight.”
“We’ll enjoy it tonight with our family and friends, have a bit of food. And straight away back to it tomorrow,” Scott said.
Columbia next plays at Monmouth on Saturday.