NEW YORK – First-year Andrew Tinari scored the game-winner for the Lions in the 59th minute, as the Columbia men’s soccer team toppled visiting Sacred Heart, 2-1, Wednesday at the Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium. The victory gives Columbia eight wins on the season, matching the 2011 season for the most in a single season in the past 10 years for the Lions.
Columbia wasted little time getting on the board against the Pioneers, taking a 1-0 lead just 1:38 into the contest. First-year Nicholas Pappacena was attacking the net when he was deliberately taken down by the Sacred Heart goalkeeper, giving the Lions a penalty kick. Senior David Najem stepped up to take the kick and buried it to the right side of the goal for his fifth tally of the season.
The Lions were unable to maintain the lead for an extended period, as Sacred Heart posted the equalizer in the 15th minute. Ronaldo Vieira slipped a pass through the Columbia defense that Mahmoud Kafel fielded before turning and placing a shot between the Lions’ goalkeeper and the right shot. The goal was Kafel’s seventh of the year.
At the half, Columbia held a 9-4 advantage in shots and a 3-1 edge in corner kicks.
The Lions came out with an aggressive attack in the second half and it paid off with the go-ahead goal off the foot of Tinari. Pappacena led the charge down field before passing off to Anton Wesener who fed the ball to the center of the field where Tinari drilled a shot from 20 yards out that hit crossbar and sunk into the goal. The goal was Tinari’s fifth of the year and third in as many games.
Just moments later Columbia had an opportunity to add to its lead, but Najem’s header from eight yards out hit the crossbar and deflected away from the goal. A Lions scoring chance once again found the top pipe in the 87th minute when Pappacena ripped a blast from the right side that narrowly missed crossing under the bar.
Columbia’s back line and midfield stymied the Pioneers’ attack throughout the second period. While Columbia rattled off 14 shots, Sacred Heart managed just one attempt, a shot that sailed wide right in the 63rd minute.
The Lions will host Harvard in its final home match of the season Saturday at 7 p.m.