WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Zach Morant scored a second half equalizer and Kynan Rocks netted the game-winner in double overtime, as Columbia escaped William & Mary with a 2-1 victory in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.
The NCAA Tourney win is Columbia’s first since 1990, as the Lions improve to 12-2-3 on the season.
“It was a great accomplishment by our group and something we’ve been working at for a long time,” said head coach Kevin Anderson. “A lot of credit goes to everybody, not just this particular group of guys. It has taken a village to get this program back onto the national scene. The support we have from our alumni back home and around the world has been phenomenal and they’ve helped set the scene for putting in performances like this.”
The home team jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an impressive first half goal from Ryder Bell. In the 31st minute, the William & Mary junior surprised the entire stadium when his strike from 30 yards out went on a line to the right post, bouncing in for the goal.
Facing a 1-0 deficit in the second half, Columbia pressed on the offensive end, creating eight shots in the frame. The Lions finally broke through in the 77th minute, when Nike Azuma’s corner kick was placed in the center of the box, right near seniors Arthur Bosua and Zach Morant. It was Morant who got just enough of a headed deflection into the goal and past the Tribe’s Phil Breno for the equalizer.
“I just sort of crashed the box,” said Morant. “We’ve gone over it in practice, if guys have the desire to get there, balls can go into the net. We knew we were going to get the equalizer, we were putting them under tons of pressure, it was just a matter of time.”
Just three minutes later, the Lions had a look at a game-winner, when Rocks gathered a ball and shot on the right side. The far post was not as friendly for the Columbia junior as it was for Bell, as the shot ricocheted off the side and back into play.
William & Mary kept the pressure on with the match tied 1-1, but Dylan Castanheira shut it down with a pair of impressive saves. With under five minutes left, William Eskay sent a hard ball towards the junior goalkeeper, but right into the hands of the All-Ivy keeper. With just over a minute remaining, Bell had another look at net, but Castanheira dove to his right and smothered the low ball to send the match to extra time.
The Lions only had one shot in the first extra frame, which was a blocked attempt from Vana Markarian. Bell kept the pressure on with an attempt in the closing minute, but Castanheira shut it down for his sixth save of the match.
In the second extra frame, Rocks and the Lions were able to break through. Service came into the box and Alex Bangerl had a header attempt that hit the post, but Rocks was there for the rebound, which was poked in for the game-winner.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Rocks. “Alex and Arthur crashed the back post and I think it was Alex who was unbelievable to get up and win that header and knock it down. It was an easy tap in for me and I was delighted to get the winner.”
Columbia moves on to face the No. 1 overall seed Wake Forest in a 5 p.m. match on Sunday, Nov. 19. The match can be seen on the ACC Network/Watch ESPN, and Columbia will have an audio broadcast on the Ivy League Network.