For one half, the match went somewhat according to plan. The men’s soccer team (3-6-3, 1-1-1 Ivy) was in a defensive, scoreless, game with Princeton (5-4-2, 1-0-2). There were only five shots combined, and none on goal. Princeton was unable to gain ball control anywhere near the Columbia 18-yard box.
But after halftime, the Tigers came out on the same page and put the Light Blue on its heels. Fortunately for the Lions, though, their defense and goalkeeping was good enough to preserve the 0-0 draw.
“First half, I thought we played really well,” Lions head coach Kevin Anderson said. “Second half, I thought we defended a little bit too much, and I think they got into a rhythm and we couldn’t break the rhythm. And then overtime is like every overtime—you’re trying to get one, but at the same time you’re trying to make sure that you don’t give up something easy.”
Columbia only generated five shots through regulation and its only shot on goal—a header from senior defender Quentin Grisby—came in the second overtime period. The burden of preserving the scoreless tie fell to the defense.
Rookie goalie Kyle Jackson had a minimal workload in the first half, but was challenged by Princeton several times in the second half and in overtime by through balls, which forced him to race Princeton attackers to a ball near the edge of the penalty box when his back line could not recover. He won the race almost every time, and also managed eight saves in the cool weather for his conference-leading second Ivy shutout.
“It gets a little chilly, especially when you’re cooling down at halftime and you’re cooling down at the end of the game. It’s hard to get warmed back up,” Jackson said. “It’s just something we have to deal with, and obviously the other team has to deal with it, too.”
Players from both teams began getting cramps in the second half. Still, the sides frequently attempted in these long plays to send a forward sprinting in alone, though the plays were not timed well enough to prevent opponents from getting to the ball first. Princeton did get one great chance using this method, though, as senior forward Matt Sanner corralled a long aerial pass with his chest at the edge of the penalty box and his back turned to the Columbia goal. Jackson came out to try to punch the ball out, almost falling over Sanner. Though he couldn’t clear the ball, Sanner was not able to turn and score.
“The way that they played, and the way that we held our defense, the idea was that those balls that would come over the top, Kyle would come in and collect them,” Anderson said. “He did exactly what our goalkeeper in this game was supposed to do.”
Tigers defender Mark Linnville also had two chances from within 10 yards of the goal, but the two-time Ivy Rookie of the Week made a diving save on the first shot and Linnville shot the rebound wide.
Columbia’s best chances both came from junior midfielder and co-captain David Najem. In the 65th minute, freshman left back Bryce Terrill sent in a cross for Najem, who had snuck in behind the Tigers defense, but the ball was a little too far in front of him for a successful redirection. In the 81st minute, junior midfielder-turned-forward Henning Sauerbier blocked a Princeton clearing attempt and Najem collected the ball with some room to shoot, but his hard shot was blocked.
Anderson said the Lions are in a good position moving forward because, despite not scoring for the first time in six games, the team still picked up a point with the draw.
“The idea is to collect points along the way until you get to the last game of the season,” Anderson said. “We’re playing here the last game of the Ivy League season for the Ivy League title against Cornell.”