NEW YORK - The Columbia men's soccer team dropped its season opener Friday to visiting Fairfield, 1-0, at the Columbia Soccer Stadium. Despite outshooting the Stags 10-3, the Lions fell due to Reco McLaren's goal in the 34th minute.
Columbia opened the game with a high level of intensity, controlling the ball through the early stages. Play remained primarily in Columbia's offensive zone as the half progressed until a breakaway for the Stags in the 34th minute.
The Fairfield defense was able to produce a long clear that Ryan Perkins tracked down near the end line. Perkins was able to create enough space between himself and the Columbia defender chasing him down to put a cross right in front of the net where McLaren knocked it into the back of the net.
The goal would serve as the only shot in the first half for Fairfield and the only shot on goal the entire game for the Stags.
In the second half, Columbia continued to outshoot the Stags, tallying six shots to Fairfield's two. Columbia turned up the pressure up late in the half, with Frederick Elliot having the best chance at evening the game.
Elliot charged down the left side of the field into the box where he struck a sliding kick that crossed just outside the opposite post for a goal kick in the 75th minute. David Najem produced one final chance for the Lions with just under five minutes remaining as he slammed a shot that Fairfield's goalkeeper Michael O'Keeffe stepped in front of.
Columbia finished the game with a decisive 13-1 edge in corner kicks. Friday's match saw tempers flare on occasion as eight yellow cards were handed out with five going to Fairfield.
Columbia will head out on the road for a Sunday contest at Sacred Heart, before returning home for a match against Manhattan Wednesday.