NEW YORK - Despite some strong individual defensive performances, the Columbia field hockey team fell to Villanova, 1-0, on Sunday at the Columbia Field Hockey Venue.
Columbia (8-8, 4-2 Ivy League) and Villanova (8-10, 3-3 BIG EAST) were even on shots (seven each) and penalty corners (five each) in a game that featured strong defense by both teams. First-year Lauren Skudalski stood out for the Lions, disrupting Villanova possessions on the back line, serving as the insert on penalty corners and directing passes to the midfield on Columbia possessions. Skudalski also protected the goal when the Lions pulled junior goalie Christie O'Hara in the closing minutes.
O'Hara recorded the first of her game-high five saves at the 12:52 mark when Villanova's Jessica Swoboda made a charge in the circle.
The Lions had their first scoring opportunity coming off a penalty corner at the 24:13 mark when junior Paige Simmons ripped a shot at Wildcats goalie Megan Goelz, who made the first of her three saves on the day.
Columbia junior and leading scorer Gabby Kozlowski fired her first shot of the day at the 34:12 mark off a penalty corner, but Goelz was there to turn it away. Senior captain Leti Freaney's shot at the buzzer was blocked and the teams went into halftime knotted at 0-0.
At the start of the second period, Villanova took the ball down the field quickly for a shot at 35:56 that O'Hara stopped with a diving save.
The Wildcats' next shot was the game-winner. Coming off the fly from a penalty corner at 43:42, Maddy Harding scored from the middle of the circle, unassisted.
Lions senior captain Leti Freaney had a shot turned away at 49:04 before Villanova dominated a six-minute stretch when it totaled three shots on O'Hara.
At the 61:58 mark, Villanova's Jessica Swoboda drew a yellow card, giving Columbia a numbers advantage for the next five minutes. The Lions were unable to capitalize on the edge as the Wildcats held on for the win.
Columbia will close out the 2011 regular season on Friday, Nov. 4, when the Lions host Ivy League rival Harvard for Senior Day.