Last weekend, pressing forward for the go-ahead goal cost the men’s soccer team. But on Saturday the strategy paid off, as a goal by sophomore midfielder Antonio Matarazzo in the 62nd minute lifted the Lions (1-2) to a 2-1 win over visiting Iona (2-2-1).
To begin the play that led to the score, the Gaels recovered a Columbia corner kick and began racing up the field. Senior midfielder Henning Sauerbier, seeing that many of his teammates were caught upfield, rushed back and managed to block a pass back toward Iona’s net. Freshman defender Rhys Williams pressured the ball and forced a bad clearing attempt, which Sauerbier intercepted. He passed to Matarazzo at the top of the penalty box and while Matarazzo’s first shot was blocked, his second found the top corner.
“That player was very strong with his right foot, so I knew he would go inside and he would try to hit along,” Sauerbier said. “And since we were all were very far up front, so I was like, ‘All right, I have to stop that ball.’”
Were it not for Sauerbier’s read, the play may have ended up like the one that resulted in the Lions’ first goal in the 13th minute. Sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Jackson punched out an Iona corner kick to senior midfielder David Najem. He passed to freshman midfielder Andrew Tinari, who sent the ball to rookie forward Nicholas Pappacena on the right flank. Pappacena ran the ball toward the corner and centered to Tinari, who put a shot on goal. Najem—whose first goal of the season was thanks to a fortunate rebound off the crossbar—was in good position to tap in another rebound for his second.
“I’m not surprised we came out strong,” said junior defender Jack Gagné. “Both halves, we put on a good performance in the first 10 minutes. And that was key, I think.”
Pappacena almost extended the lead to 3-1 about 10 minutes after Matarazzo’s tally, but Iona goalie Julian Petrello made a diving save.
“Tinari is a great player, great technique. He definitely helps us offensively,” Sauerbier said. “Pappacena is another great option. He makes very good runs in behind.”
On the defensive end, Jackson, a 2012 All-Ivy honorable mention, frequently came out of his net to catch crosses or punch them away. The one ball that got past him was a penalty kick in the 17th minute. Midfielder Franklin Castellanos, the Gaels’ leading scorer, managed to get a step on the Columbia defense coming down the left side and was taken down in the penalty box. Although Jackson guessed correctly on the direction of the subsequent penalty, his dive was too low.
With fewer than five minutes to go, the Gaels almost tied the game. Iona freshman midfielder Vincent Harrington’s header off a long free kick was headed for the top corner, but Jackson managed to tap it out before it fully crossed the goal line. Although the Gaels recovered the ball, they were called for a foul, handing back possession to Columbia.
Columbia next plays on Wednesday, hosting Manhattan.