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Ben Goldsmith / Senior Staff Photographer

The Lions began the season with five straight shutout wins against Ivy competitors, but once again struggled to win late in the year.

Women’s soccer’s hopes of winning this season’s Ivy League title came to a heartbreaking end on Saturday, following a scoreless draw in double overtime against Harvard.

Columbia (9-5-2, 5-1-1 Ivy) was vying for a share of its first Ivy League title since 2006, an automatic NCAA tournament berth, and its first victory over Harvard (8-8-1, 2-4-1 Ivy) since 2007 when the two teams faced off on Saturday. But for the second year in a row, the Lions fell short of winning the title and ended their season in second place overall.

The Light Blue’s offense, led by senior forward Natalie Neshat and junior forward Emma Anderson, had averaged 2.27 goals per game leading up to Saturday’s match. Looking to place Harvard on the defense from the very beginning, the Light Blue dominated with 16 shots on goal, seven of which came from Neshat and Anderson. On the other side of the field, Harvard managed only two shots on goal over the course of the entire game.

But Harvard’s goalkeeper Danielle Etzel was on a mission of her own, making a total of 16 saves—a record in the Ivy League this season.

“We took a lot of shots, but we couldn’t get one away from her,” head coach Tracey Bartholomew said. “When you’re on that side where you have the goalkeeper making those saves, it’s incredible. But when you’re where we are, you get so upset.”

Columbia continued to push hard for a championship-winning goal in double overtime, but shots made by Anderson and fellow junior forward Rachel Alexander were saved by Etzel in the 103rd and 104th minutes, respectively.

For Columbia, the story of this season mirrors last year, when the Light Blue also went 5-0 in Ivy League play before dropping its final conference matches to Yale and Harvard.

The end of this season was especially significant for Bartholomew, who saw her first season as head coach for the Lions in 2014, when the current seniors began their Ivy League careers.

“The hardest part for me personally is when you end your seniors, and they’re such an incredible group,” Bartholomew said. “Sometimes this game can be mean, but once the kids process things, they’ll get back to work.”

The Light Blue finished the season second in the Ivy League, with Princeton (14-2, 6-1 Ivy) taking the title after defeating Penn 1-0 on Saturday.

Despite this disappointing end to their season for the second year in a row, this year was marked by impressive defensive efforts from the Lions—Columbia goalkeepers gave up only one goal against all Ivy competitors in the 1-0 loss to Yale last weekend.

The team remains optimistic for its future, and many key players will return as they seek the elusive Ivy title again next year.

chituga.weli@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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