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Senior captain Duke Lacroix gave Penn men's soccer an early goal but the Red and Blue couldn't hold on against Columbia.

It was a tale of two halves for Penn men’s soccer.

Despite a 1-0 halftime lead at Rhodes Field, the Quakers fell to Columbia, 2-1, in a nailbiter.

In the first half, Penn (5-5, 1-1 Ivy) jumped out to a 1-0 advantage over the Lions (4-5, 1-1) thanks to senior forward Duke Lacroix’s sixth goal of the season in the 20th minute, assisted by sophomore Alec Neumann and junior Forrest Clancy. It was Penn’s first shot-on-goal, and the Quakers only attempted two more shots in the first half.

“We felt like we had the game completely under control in the first half, deserved to be up 1-0,” coach Rudy Fuller said. “[We] probably should have taken some chances and put it away in the first half, but we didn’t, and it came back to bite us.”

In a game Fuller admitted was a “must-win” for the Lions, he credited their comeback to halftime adjustments.

“They made an adjustment at the half and went from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2,” Fuller said. “[That] made it a game of matchups, and we need to be better at dealing with those changes. We never were able to get control of the game again, and it got away from us.”

Revitalized by the changes, Columbia scored twice in the second half on goals by Rhys Williams and Frederick Elliot in the 61st and 69th minutes, respectively. The scores mark Williams’ third and Elliott’s second goals this season.

The Quakers failed to keep up with the Lions, though they had plenty of opportunities, taking 10 shots in the second half, including Neumann’s two near misses.

After saying during the week that he felt the team needed to work on finishing games stronger, Lacroix still feels the same way.

“We need to do a better job of closing out the game. Every Ivy League game is going to be tough,” Lacroix said. “Whether you’re ahead or behind, both teams are going to battle for the full 90 [minutes].

“[It is] just a point of emphasis for every game we go into but especially conference play.”

The loss bumps Penn to 6-3-1 in its last 10 meetings versus Columbia. Last year’s matchup in New York City ended in a 0-0 draw.

Fuller is thankful for the “quick turnaround,” as the Quakers get back in action on Tuesday for a match against Rutgers. The team will then have the opportunity to move back above .500 in both total and Ivy League records in next Saturday’s key matchup against Dartmouth in Hanover.

Although close losses can sometimes be tough on teams, Fuller is confident in his team’s leadership. Lacroix, one of the team veterans, spoke of the importance of staying focused on the task at hand.

“Rutgers is our next game, and that’s where our head is at right now.”

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