NEW YORK -- Sophomore Natalie Melo scored the first goal of her career in the 78th minute of play, closing out a dominating second-half performance by the Columbia women's soccer team in a 1-0 win over Manhattan at Columbia Soccer Stadium.
After controlling possession for much of the first half but seeing the Lady Jaspers outshoot them 8-1, the Lions came out with aggression in the second stanza and turned the tides with a 12-2 advantage in shots in the period.
Early in the match, it looked like the Lions might run away with things as it held onto the ball for much of the first 20 minutes. In the 15th minute, a pair of seniors nearly hooked up for a score as Nora Dooley played Ashlin Yahr into the box. But Lady Jasper goalkeeper Kara Davis came out to grab the ball before Yahr got a touch on it.
In the 21st minute, Manhattan began to use the counter-attack to perfection. A Lady Jasper fired a long-distance shot from about 25 yards out that appeared to be headed into the upper-left corner of goal.
But first-year Grace Redmon, making the first start of her career, retreated and tipped the ball over the cross bar at the last second to thwart the chance. Redmon had five saves in the first half and kept Manhattan off the scoreboard heading into intermission.
The second half was a different story, as Columbia both controlled the ball with quick passes and held a lopsided advantage in shots. The Lions nearly got on the board in the 68th minute, as first-year Erin Falk took three corner kicks that led to four shots.
Falk's first corner eventually came to sophomore Coleen Rizzo at the far post, but her header was blocked out of bounds. The Duluth, Ga. native was awarded with another corner, and found sophomore Chelsea Ryan in the middle of the box.
Ryan got a header off that was saved by Davis. The rebound came to Yahr, who half-bicycled a shot that hit the post and caromed off a Lady Jasper out of bounds for yet another corner. Falk's third and final corner found Rizzo again, but her header went wide.
Persistence paid off in the 78th minute, as Yahr moved the ball up the right side all the way to the touch line. The Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. native cut inside and found Melo all alone in front of net. Melo turned, and fired with her left foot to beat Manhattan reserve goalkeeper Maria Sanzari to give Columbia a 1-0 lead.
From there the Lions fended off the Lady Jaspers thanks in part to senior Lillian Klein, who entered in goal at halftime and made a pair of saves over the final five minutes to help Columbia hang on.
The Lions return to Ivy League action on Saturday, Oct. 29 as they take on Yale at Columbia Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m.