AMHERST, Mass. – In the season opener for the Columbia men’s soccer team, the Lions (0-0-1) played UMass (2-0-1) to a 1-1 draw in Amherst, Massachusetts.
After several shot attempts by both squads in the first half, the Minutemen were finally able to break the scoreless tie with five minutes to play in the period. On a long throw in by Casey Hamill, Davis Smith was able to push across a shot inside the six-yard box to give UMass a 1-0 lead, which they would take into halftime.
The Lions would find an answer in the second half, behind the foot of John Denis. The sophomore sent a bending shot to the far post from 24 yards away, making it a 1-1 tie with 17 minutes remaining in regulation. Blake Willis and Arthur Bosua were both credited with assists on the play, which marked the first career helper for Willis.
With the scored tied after 90 minutes, the two teams went to overtime. In the first extra period, Francisco Agrest was able to send two shots towards the net, both of which were saved by Bardia Asefnia of UMass, while the Lions defense did not allow a shot from the Minutemen in the first extra period.
Columbia held the ball in its offensive end for much of the second overtime period, and went on to draw a yellow card on UMass when Avi Eller was pushed near the sideline. The resulting free kick would not bring forth a shot from the Lions, but the Columbia defense would hold the home team without a shot in the final period.
The score that led to the draw from Denis was his first of the season and fifth of his career. Arthur Bosua and Francisco Agrest finished the contest with two shots on goal each, while Eller, Denis, and Nike Azuma had one apiece.
On the back end, Dylan Castanheira stopped one shot, while the Columbia defense only allowed six shots from the Minutemen.
Today marked the first career starts for Eller and Willis, while Matthew Swain and Beto Carillo also saw their first career action. Aside from the two rookie starters, Columbia began the game with seniors Alex Bangerl, Bosua, and Zach Morant, juniors Agrest, Azuma, Brendan Dennis, and Castanheira, and sophomores Vana Markarian and Denis.
The Lions will take Saturday and Sunday off before a Labor Day showdown with cross-borough rival Fordham at 4 p.m. from Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium.