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Junior midfielder John Denis collected a goal against Butler, helping the Lions to an upset of the 11th-ranked team in the nation.

Men’s soccer opened its season with a bittersweet weekend, which saw a 1-0 loss to Kentucky on Friday night followed by a 2-1 Labor Day double overtime victory over Butler.

Following a one-hour rain delay on Friday in Kentucky, the Wildcats (3-0) immediately pressured the Lions (1-1), forcing senior goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira to make the first save of the game after just three minutes.

The Lions didn’t get a shot on frame until the 19th minute, when junior midfielder Danny Laranetto shot the ball from the middle of the box, directly into the arms of the Wildcats’ goalkeeper Enrique Facusse. Columbia tried again in the 27th minute, when a corner kick created an opening for senior midfielder Francisco Agrest to fire the ball from the left of the box. His attempt, however, was stopped by a diving save from Facusse.

The second half started goalless, but the Wildcats broke through the Lions’ defense in the 59th minute. Wildcat Nicolai Fremstad’s cross from the edge of the field passed Castanheira and found JJ Williams, whose shot from inside the six-yard box went in off of the crossbar of the open goal. Williams’ goal was the only one of the night and left the Lions with a losing start to their season in Kentucky.

Despite opening the season on a loss, the Lions played well in their second match, winning their Labor Day game 2-1 against Butler (1-2-1).

Despite eight attempts by Columbia and four by Butler, neither team broke through in the first half. The Bulldogs, however, hit the ground running after the break as Derek Sutton beat Castanheira less than two minutes into the half.

The Lions responded in the 65th minute as senior defender Nike Azuma found junior midfielder John Denis whose powerful shot beat the Butler keeper on his right to tie the game. Columbia followed up with four more shots on target, but it failed to take the lead and the two sides went into overtime.

Neither side found the golden goal it needed in the first 10 minutes of overtime, but in the second extra period Agrest, the Lions’ captain, was awarded the chance to win the game for the Lions after senior Kynan Rocks was fouled in the box. Agrest then fired at the left side of the net, beating the Butler keeper and securing Columbia’s first win of the season.

With one loss and one victory, the Lions will look to earn a winning record at West Point. Kickoff against the Army Mules is set for 7 p.m.

sammy.applebaum@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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