Menís Soccer Faces St. Johnís Tuesday
NEW YORK - The Columbia men's soccer team will visit No. 13 St. John's Tuesday night in the final out-of-conference contest for the Lions this season. The game will start at Belson Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Columbia heads into Tuesday's contest after tying Long Island-Brooklyn, 1-1, on the road Saturday night. The Blackbirds jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Columbia, but Andrew Celsus provided the equalizer in the 73rd minute.
The second half of games this season has been when Columbia has done all its scoring. The Lions have scored all five their goals in the 2012 season after the halftime intermission.
Columbia's defense and goalkeeping has kept it in contests throughout the season. Freshman Kyle Jackson ranks in the top-five in the Ivy League in four crucial categories. Jackson has the second-highest save percentage at .864, with his 19 saves putting him in a tie for third with Yale's Bobby Thalman. Jackson's 0.71 goals-against average places his fourth amongst his peers in the Ancient Eight, while his 3.8 saves per game mark is good for fifth. Fellow keeper Michael Attal also ranks in the top-10 in goals-against, save percentage and saves per game.
The Columbia offense will need to step up Tuesday, facing one of the best goalies in the nation in St. John's Rafael Diaz. Prior to St. John's 3-0 loss to No.2 Connecticut, Diaz ranked in the top-10 nationally in save percentage.
Kofi Agayapong has paced the Lions' offense this season, recording eight shots, one goal and assist. Agayapong and Nick Scott each have three points this season, while Brandan O'Hearn, Andrew Celsus and Quentin Grigsby each have two points.
The Columbia defense will be called upon again to stop a strong offensive team in the Red Storm. The backline for Columbia has held opponents to just six tallies this season, but face a Red Storm team that has registered 14 goals. Leading the way for St. John's is Jack Bennett with three goals, as well as providing helpers on three more. Andres Vargas and Nick Matthews each have two goals and two assists on the year.
Tuesday's meeting between Columbia and St. John's will be the first meeting between the New York schools in 23 years. The Lions and Red Storm met seven times from 1981-1989, with Columbia coming out ahead in all seven contests. In total, Columbia has recorded 22 goals, while St. John's has scored just once in those seven meetings.