As Columbia (1-3) heads into its fifth game of the season, it faces a familiar opponent in Saint Peter’s College (2-3). The Lions and Peacocks have played in each of the last three seasons, with the Light Blue winning the most recent contest, 2-1 in overtime. Although the Lions were far from perfect in that match, at the end of the day, they executed their plays successfully enough to take the win.
Columbia entered last year’s match on a solid two-game win streak to open the season. This year the team enters this game on an uneven note. Two games ago, for example, it scored twice, results of a corner kick and free kick, while last game they surrendered the lone goal of the match off a corner.
“You’ve got to figure out why your performances are not consistent,” Lions head coach Kevin Anderson said. Over the last week, he has focused on “restart” plays. But instead of focusing on the execution aspect of “restart” plays, recently, he and the team worked on trying to limit opportunities for free kicks and the like in the first place.
“We were really focusing on individual and second defenders, because I think that’s where we’ve struggled,” Anderson said. “[...] It’s caused us to ... give up lots of fouls, because we’re reaching for balls and we’re not moving our feet and getting into good spots. Sometimes if you have a second guy behind you, you don’t feel that same sense of decision-making where you feel like you have to foul.”
Columbia has out-fouled its opponents by a wide margin in its four games this season. It has been called for 55 infractions, compared to only 30 by its opponents.
Anderson hopes the small changes will help push the Light Blue over the top.
“If everyone adjusts on the team, you have the opportunity to make a big impact, by everybody just doing a small piece,” he said.
The Peacocks are looking to right their ship as well. Saint Peter’s lost 5-1 at George Mason and 2-0 at American last week in its first two road games of five straight. Junior goalkeeper Carlos Suarez has allowed 12 goals on 36 shots on goal.
Despite the defensive difficulties, Saint Peter’s has not been lacking on offense. It has scored eight goals in its five games. Sophomore midfielder/forward Noah Sadaoui leads the team with five goals and 27 shots, the former more than Columbia has scored this season (two) and the latter almost as many (29). Two other Peacocks have registered more shots than any other Lion (four). The Lions’ defense and primary two goalies –– junior Michael Attal and freshman Kyle Jackson, the reigning Ivy rookie of the week––will be tested.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Columbia Soccer Stadium.