Three days after being named the No. 6-ranked team in the country, Columbia College men’s soccer found themselves on the ropes against an unranked foe Saturday in Columbia.
Lyon College had found an opening goal in the 24th minute and taken the Cougars deep into the second half with threats to spoil their national ranking and unbeaten record. CC was getting restless in urgency, sending players up forward in hopes of an equalizer.
With two set-piece plays going their way, Columbia not only equalized but eventually went on to score a winner to keep their undefeated streak intact.
After midfielder Mako Makoanyane was fouled in the 18-yard box by Scots’ Diego Mendez, defender Casey Bartlett-Scott powered a perfect penalty shot into the top left corner to level the scoreline at 1-1 in the 80th minute.
22 minutes and a full overtime period later, midfielder Ximo Gill‘’s corner kick directly curled into the Lyon net to propel CC to a 2-1 result and an American Midwest Conference-opening win at Marvin Owens Field.
It wasn’t pretty, but head coach John Klein was pleased that his team “stayed composed” and maintained stability despite being behind most of the match.
“Gritty is a great word for tonight’s effort,” Klein said. “You can tell, (Lyon) came here to win. There was urgency; we had free kick after free kick, throw-in after throw-in and multiple chances...(a goal) was going to come. Little bit of luck involved, but the boys worked hard.”
Statistically, Columbia was dominant: they outshot Lyon 15-5, had 14 corner kicks to the Scots’ two and forced Lyon into 18 fouls, including 10 in the second half alone once CC started advancing its attack.
They almost won the game in regulation through a Nathan Durdle header, but it rattled off of the crossbar in the 88th minute to take the Cougars to extra period for the first time this season. Neither Columbia nor Lyon had a shot in the first overtime, but it was clear that the Cougars were maintaining offensive pressure from regulation as they were a constant presence in the Scots’ half.
In the second minute of the second overtime — the 102nd minute of the game — CC won its final corner of the night, which Gill hit sweetly with his right foot over the head of Lyon goalkeeper Vicente Alamos and into the top right corner.
“I expected it to go in and someone hits it, but today it went in by itself,” Gill, a junior from Valencia, Spain, said of his stroke of luck to win the game. “We have come out with a positive mindset the last six games...and we were just thinking (that) we have to keep this going. We cannot stop now.”
The men’s match was the second of two games played against Lyon Saturday: before the overtime thriller, the women’s team also made short work of the Scots in its AMC opener.
CC routed Lyon 5-0 in a game that was more lopsided than the score showed: the Cougars had a 34-2 shot advantage with 15 shots on goal. Columbia spent so much time in the Scots’ half of the field that Cougars ‘’keeper Kate Marshall didn’t register a touch on the ball until late in first half, not needing to make a save the entire match.
Five different names were on the scoresheet for CC. Two Hickman grads, Kelsey Mirts and Brianna Heath, scored in the first half, while Isabella Govero and Mallory Holzer scored a minute apart in the 55th and 56th minutes respectively. Reigning AMC Player of the Year Molly Klein finished the blowout with a final goal in the 75th minute, her second of the season.
“The opponent wasn’t as high-level as we’ve played in our first six matches, (but) it allowed us to get a lot of players in the game. It allowed us to see what works for us,” Klein said. “We were creative, we came from all angles of the field tonight in our attack (and) we were very strong defensively.”
The goal from Heath was the first of her collegiate career as the former Kewpie notched her unassisted score in the 31st minute. Heath is part of a Columbia-heavy contingent within the women’s soccer team; she was one of five starters Saturday that call the city their hometown.
“She’s looked so dangerous from that left side,” Klein said of Heath. “We’re experimenting with her at the left mid...she’s so fast, she can strike a ball (and) serve a ball. That’s a big step in the right direction for us to get Bri on the scoreboard.”