NEW YORK -- Senior captain Leti Freaney scored the game-winner with just over five minutes left, junior Paige Simmons had one goal and one assist and the Columbia field hockey team took a 2-1 home victory over Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday for its second win of the weekend.
The Columbia field hockey team donned pink socks and shoelace and the Lions coaches wore pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The team collected donations for the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Columbia (6-6, 3-1 Ivy League) played with veteran resolve to defeat VCU (4-11, 1-4 CAA). The Lions defended their early lead in the first half despite aggressive play from the Rams. After the game was knotted at 1-1, Freaney stepped up and Columbia played smart possession ball to run out the clock.
Simmons gave the Lions a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute. Coming out of a penalty corner taken by Desi Scherf, Simmons handled a pass from Bridget DeSandis for a tip-in goal right in front at the 5:35 mark.
At the 22:40 mark of the first half, the VCU bench was issued a green card.
VCU played a determined possession game in the first half, as the Rams maintained control of the ball in Columbia territory for the majority of the period. The Lions defense held strong despite playing on its heels for much of the half, turning away three Rams shots and surviving four penalty corners.
Coming out of the break, Columbia had crisper passes and had much-improved possessions as the momentum shifted back in the Lions' favor. However, at the 53:13 mark, Haley McBee ricocheted in a controversial goal off a rebounded shot from a penalty corner. The referees issued a clock stoppage and convened with the coaches to discuss the call and the goal was upheld.
Freaney came through for the Lions at the 64:44 mark, tapping in a goal just a few feet in front of the net off a rebound pass from Simmons. The senior captain played a vital role in defending the lead just moments later. With two and a half minutes remaining, Freaney took the ball into the Rams right corner and, with impressive focus and stickwork, ate over a minute off the clock.
The Rams were unable to recover from Freaney's goal and stalling strategy as Columbia held on for the win to improve to 4-1 at home.
Columbia's forwards were aggressive when they had opportunities down on the VCU end. Junior forward Gabby Kozlowski fired a game-high five shots and Simmons finished the game with a four shots.
Columbia first-year goalkeeper Marlee Silverstein had another outstanding performance in goal, making a pair of saves and improving her record to 2-0.
The Lions will next play their final two regular-season road games of the year, facing Dartmouth on Oct. 22 and Lafayette on Oct. 25. Columbia returns home on Oct. 28 to host Yale.