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Junior midfielder Joey Bhangdia scored his sixth goal of the season in Penn men's soccer's 1-1 draw against Columbia on Sunday.

Credit: Son Nguyen

A road draw means the Quakers are still undefeated in the Ivy League, but they might have felt they deserved more.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in New York, Penn men’s soccer battled to a 1-1 draw with Columbia. Both the Quakers (4-3-2, 1-0-1 Ivy) and the Lions (3-4-3, 1-0-1) were coming off thrilling 3-2 wins against Cornell and Brown, respectively. However, this game against Columbia in New York was nothing of the sort, as both teams scored in a wild opening but offered nothing much on offense for the rest of the contest.

The Lions, who had the ball for kickoff, scored on their first possession of the game. A teasing, low cross down the left channel found forward Avi Eller, whose close-range flick was denied by Penn sophomore goalkeeper Dane Jacomen. However, the rebound fell to Columbia freshman midfielder Uri Zeitz, who smashed the ball into the net to give the Lions the lead after just 38 seconds.

“It’s always tough to concede that early, a minute into the game,” junior midfielder Joey Bhangdia said about the team’s early lapse in concentration. “It was one mistake that led to [the goal], but we were able to bounce back and respond pretty well.”

Even after conceding the early goal, the Red and Blue kept their composure and gradually took hold of the game. In the 11th minute, junior midfielder Amado Lozano sliced a pinpoint through-ball to junior forward Jake Kohlbrenner deep in the Columbia half. 

Turning past his defender, Kohlbrenner then played Bhangdia through down the left flank, who calmly slotted home the shot to equalize the score for the Quakers. This was Bhangdia’s sixth goal of the season, as he continues to stay atop the Ivy League goal charts.

“I attribute a lot of [my success] to my teammates,” Bhangdia said. “Jake and I have developed really good chemistry playing together. Having conversations off the field really helps our performance on it, and continuing to build these relationships is something we’ve talked a lot about over the season.”

After an early exchange of goals, the pace of the game slowed down as both teams looked to shore up their defense. The Lions tried to build from the back against a patient Penn backline, while the Quakers looked to lift the ball up to Kohlbrenner whenever they had the chance.

Columbia had the lion’s share of chances in the first half, tallying seven shots compared to Penn’s three, most coming courtesy of the creative Zeitz. The rookie thrived in between Penn’s lines of defense and had two opportunities to score before the end of the half, including a well-taken side volley from the edge of the box. However, Jacomen stopped both efforts to ensure the scoreline remained unchanged heading into the break.

The second half was somewhat uneventful as both the Quakers and the Lions searched for that elusive second goal. Throughout the half, Penn's defense shut Zeitz down, as well as midfielder John Denis, another of the Lions’ creative outlets who leads his team with five goals and three assists for the season.

The Red and Blue also stepped up offensively in the half, notching six shots compared to Columbia’s three, yet none of them really troubled the Lions. With seconds to go, a headed clearance by senior defender Casey Barone found sophomore midfielder Ben Stitz for a counter-attacking opportunity. Fending off two Lions near the edge of the box with some nifty footwork, Stitz laid the ball to Kohlbrenner on the right, but his shot was deflected out for a corner. That corner was not taken in time, and the referee sent the game to overtime.

The Quakers, with the ball to start first overtime, tried to force things deep in Columbia territory from the get-go. However, despite dominating possession in the period and gaining a couple of set piece opportunities, they were unable to carve out any clear-cut chances against a stout Lions defense, and only managed a single, off-target shot. The second overtime period also went by with no offensive excitement, and the Quakers had to settle for a draw.

While the group had several missed opportunities and couldn't come out with a statement win, Bhangdia is nonetheless pleased with his team's showing.

“We don’t want to get too down about this result, to get a point on the road against a very good Columbia side, but we’re looking forward [to our next game],” Bhangdia said.

Next up for the Red and Blue, who are tied for second in the conference with Columbia, is a Tuesday night matchup at UMBC. That game will provide the Quakers with a chance to recalibrate amidst the Ivy League frenzy, before they return to Rhodes Field on Saturday to host Dartmouth with an undefeated conference record on the line.

Ed. Note: A previous version of this story misstated the location of the game. The DP regrets the error.

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