It isn’t always about what’s written on the scoreboard.
Returning to Rhodes Field for the first time in a month, Penn men’s soccer fell to Columbia in a decisive 2-0 loss. After last week’s overtime loss to Cornell, the Quakers (2-3-3, 0-2 Ivy) have gotten off to a poor start in Ivy League play.
The game started off slowly, with the teams trading possessions but taking chances with the ball. Sophomore midfielder Joey Bhangdia took a shot after beating his defender in the opening minutes, but it was turned away by Columbia goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira.
Things picked up in the 35th minute after a kerfuffle in front of Penn’s goal, when Columbia midfielder Dylan Mott managed to slip the ball in the back of the net to give the Lions (5-3-1, 2-0) a 1-0 lead.
Just a few minutes later, Columbia doubled its lead when senior defender Nike Azuma ripped a shot from 25 yards away that found its way into the goal. Both scores came from corner kicks, and Columbia took its 2-0 lead into the half.
“[It was a] combination of bad luck for us and a really good play by them,” coach Brian Gill said of the Lions’ second goal.
Columbia excelled at moving the ball up the field during the second half, doubling the number of shots they took in the first. But the Quakers’ defense was able to hold the attack off and prevent the visitors from adding to their lead.
In the end, Penn’s scoring woes continued; the Quakers were unable to get on the board for the fifth consecutive game and the sixth overall this season.
The numbers of the game, however, might not reflect the team’s performance. Gill acknowledged that Columbia’s 2-0 lead at the half made it difficult for Penn to catch up.
“To be honest with you, I thought we played quite well for large stretches of the game," he said. "Unfortunately, they got two set-piece goals in the first half."
Their work on defense may not have translated as well as hoped, but the Red and Blue were steady in the second half. With winning in mind, however, Penn will need to focus on creating opportunities on the other half of the field.
“We’re gonna find [the] good in this game,” Gill said. “This isn’t going to be a game that we’ll turn around and be like, ‘Oh we were terrible in it.’”
Gill seems confident that the team’s work in training will lead to success in the near future.
“The guys are working really hard. I don’t have any complaints about the team, [the] work ethic, [the] commitment...it’s just now taking it from the training field to the playing field.”
The Quakers will look to break their goalless streak when they face UMBC at home on Tuesday.
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