NEW YORK -- Senior defender Ronnie Shaban continued his offensive onslaught, scoring a pair of goals in the first half to lead the Columbia men's soccer team to a 2-1 win over Harvard on Saturday at Columbia Soccer Stadium. With the victory, the Lions improve to 4-2 in the Ivy League, 8-7-1 overall, and remain in the hunt for an Ivy League championship.
Following a senior-day ceremony that honored eight Columbia men's soccer players playing in their final home regular season match, the Lions came out aggressive and got on the board in the 16th minute.
Sophomore Henning Sauerbier made a run in the box and was tripped up just as he made a move toward goal. The referee blew the whistle and awarded a penalty kick to the Lions. Shaban stepped to the marker and calmly converted to the right side to put Columbia up 1-0.
Less than 10 minutes later, the home team doubled its lead thanks to another perfectly-placed corner from junior Nick Scott. Scott, who leads the club with six assists in just 10 matches this year, sent a corner kick far post at the 26:30 mark.
The ball found the head of Shaban, who punched it home for his second of the match. The goal was fourth this season and the third in two matches for the Ashburn, Va. native, as he scored the game-winner off a diving header chance against Adelphi on Tuesday.
Harvard nearly got on the scoreboard at the end of the first half, as Pascal Mensah sent a header just over the crossbar with five seconds remaining in the period. Columbia had the narrow edge in shots, 6-5, at the break while each team had three corner kicks.
In the 55th minute, the Crimson got on the scoreboard as Connor McCarthy converted from point-blank range off a corner-kick opportunity. In the 64th minute, Harvard almost had the equalizer but the iron was kind to the Lions when Tim Schmoll struck a shot that hit the crossbar and bounded out of harms way.
From there, Columbia's sturdy defense held the Crimson without a shot over the final 26 minutes of play. Shaban, senior Jesse Vella, junior Brendan O'Hearn and junior Quentin Grigsby all played crucial roles, as did senior Nick Faber and junior Ifiok Akpandak off the bench.
Senior goalkeeper Alexander Aurrichio made one save over 90 minutes, a fingertip stop of a blast by Michael Innocenzi in the 10th minute that kept the Crimson off the board.
The Lions close out their regular season on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Cornell. Two matches within the conference on that day will have Ivy League title implications. Columbia (12 points) heads to Ithaca, with both teams mathematically alive for a championship.The Lions need to defeat the Big Red (11 points), and have Brown and Dartmouth, who face off against each other in Providence the same day, tie to win the Ivy League championship.