NEW YORK — With the clock winding down in the first half of women’s soccer’s home opener, first-year Talia Tyler found a slight opening after senior forward Amaris Hemmings’ shot was blocked.
Tyler found the ball in a scramble in front of the net and buried the strike into the back of the net with just one second remaining on the game clock, beating the buzzer for her first career goal to lead women’s soccer to a 3-0 victory over Fordham at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium Sunday.
The Lions (1-0-1), who finished just two points behind Princeton in the 2017 Ivy League Standings, began head coach Tracey Bartholomew’s fifth season at the helm with a draw at Drexel (0-1-2) and capped off their opening weekend with a resounding victory over the Rams (0-3-0).
Joining Tyler was first-year midfielder Mallaika Tomar, who scored the third goal of the day for the Light Blue with a left-footed strike to the near post on a break away in the 77th minute. On that strike, Tyler collected an assist, and after her strong performance was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week.
Bartholomew expressed excitement about the output from her first-years, lauding her team’s depth up and down the roster.
“You always remember that first one [goal], especially when you're a forward,” Bartholomew said. “And they worked for it, that scramble in the box, Amaris almost got it and Talia hit it in, and you saw her celebration, it was pretty cool. The nice part is, the girls have worked really hard and they respect each other and root for each other when they get out there, and that was a goal from just scrappiness, which is great.”
Senior forward and captain Emma Anderson agreed with Bartholomew’s assessment.
“We have a couple of them starting, others are coming off of the bench and having a huge impact,” Anderson said. “To have Talia score a goal and then also give an assist to another freshman, it’s so exciting. They have so much potential and so much talent so seeing them blossom so early in the season is incredible.”
The Lions had a flurry of chances in the first half, capitalizing just once before the Tyler’s tally in the 45th minute.
In the 25th minute, Anderson fed junior Emily Koe on a give-and-go, and Koe slotted it home past the Fordham netminder to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.
Koe, a Los Angeles native who earned All-Ivy honorable mention last season with five goals and three assists, will be one of the players tasked with replacing the offense of Natalie Neshat, CC ’18, who led the team with 9 goals and ten assists last season.
On the back line, the Lions’ defense had mixed results stymying the Rams’ offense. Although they did not give up a goal, the unit at times was beat on the wings, where Fordham had multiple chances to get on the board, but ultimately failed.
With the absence of senior defender Reilly Lucas due to injury for an undetermined period, the Light Blue will cycle in younger players as the season goes on. Bartholomew said after the game that Lucas would go to the doctor’s office on Monday and did not offer an estimate as to when her veteran defender would return to the pitch.
Senior goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse collected the shutout and was not significantly challenged by the Rams’ offense. Last season, Whitehouse allowed just one goal in Ivy League play, collecting six shutouts and earning second-team All-Ivy honors.
The good result against Fordham, a team against which the Light Blue has traditionally struggled, will serve the Lions well going into a two-game road trip to Colorado over Labor Day weekend.
Columbia will take on Colorado College, then traveling to Denver before returning to the east coast.
Lions make ESPN+ debut
Sunday’s game marked the first Columbia home game ever televised on ESPN+ after the Ivy League announced a multi-year deal with the national sports platform to televise games.
Bartholomew said that the enhanced platform would help bring exposure to her team, allowing her to recruit throughout the country, where future Columbia players could watch the game regardless of region.
This season, six women’s home matches will be televised on ESPN+. A seventh match—against Princeton— will appear on ESPNU.
Leo Goldman contributed reporting.