Although Columbia (2-5-1) had plenty of success against Ivy League foes last season, beating one of the top 15 sides in the country is another matter altogether. The Lions hung on to a scoreless tie through halftime, but fell behind in the first minute of the second half and lost, 3-1, to No. 13 St. John’s (6-1-3).
The Light Blue was outshot 15-3 (7-3 on goal). Freshman goalie Kyle Jackson made four saves.
“There were 70 minutes that went the way we wanted it to,” Lion head coach Kevin Anderson said, noting that as an achievement against a strong team like St. John’s. Despite some lopsided numbers on the scoresheet, he noted that two of the goals against Columbia came on team errors, and without them the scoreline would likely have been closer.
Red Storm freshman midfielder Brandon Savino scored on a diving header late in the first half, and freshman forward Jelani Williams scored his third of the season in the 63rd minute.
Despite the two goals against, Anderson thought the team played better possession-wise in the second half, and that ball control resulted in a goal in the 73rd minute. Sophomore midfielder/forward Kofi Agyapong and junior midfielder Henning Sauerbier were the main offensive threats on the field and managed to break down the St. John’s defense.
“He [Agyapong] just passed into the middle, through two guys,” Sauerbier said. “I could catch in front of one guy and then I was right in front of the goalie, one v. one, and I put it through his legs.”
The hope that Columbia did have of tying the game, needing only a single goal, did not last for long. Junior midfielder Jimmy Mulligan restored his team’s two-goal lead just a couple of minutes later off of a goalie miscue.
“There are a lot of mistakes you can’t really explain, and it’s awful hard to blame people for that,” Sauerbier said. “I think sometimes it’s not going your way, and I think we’ve worked really hard this season so far, and at some point it makes it click and it’s going to work your way. And I think that’s what we have worked for, and I think we deserve, and that’s why you just have to believe in yourself and keep doing what you’re doing.”
With the tune-up games before conference play now over, Anderson hopes the team he saw hold St. John’s scoreless through 45 minutes is the one that takes the field for 90 minutes from now on.
“When it clicks, we’ve got some serious quality,” Anderson said.
“I think overall we’re a hard working team, we improve constantly,” Sauerbier said. “I think at some point it’s going to pay off.”
Columbia starts its Ivy League slate Saturday evening at Brown.