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9-25-2021-mens-soccer-vs-monmouth-stas-korzeniowski-vanessa-huang

Freshman Stas Korzeniowski heads the ball off a corner kick from Monmouth at Rhodes Field on Sept. 25.

Credit: Vanessa Huang

After losing their first Ivy match to Cornell last weekend, Penn men's soccer looked to up their conference standings during a weekend trip to New York. The double-overtime match saw back-and-forth chances for both Penn and Columbia, but offensive opportunities came up short against two strong defenses, forcing a 1-1 tie. 

The first half saw few quality scoring chances for either team. After 44 minutes of limited offensive success, Columbia (1-6-3, 0-1-1 Ivy) put the ball away off a deflection on a cross from the left side with just seconds left in the first half.

Contact in front of the net between a Columbia striker and Penn (4-3-2, 0-1-1) keeper Nick Christoffersen took the junior keeper out of the play. As the ball popped through, Columbia’s right wing put an uncontested header into an open goal. Christoffersen and his defense were looking for a penalty on that contact, but the call never came. Penn ended the half with four shots, while Columbia had five.

"Coming into halftime we were relatively pleased with the way the half went, except for the fact that we conceded a goal with a minute to go," coach Brian Gill said. "We consciously made a decision as a group not to allow that goal to derail what our thoughts were gonna be coming into halftime." 

The Lions’ goal loomed large throughout the rest of the game. The first 20 minutes of the second half were back and forth with no offensive breakthroughs for either team. Columbia’s defense continued to make plays to stifle Penn’s offensive drives.

At the 72-minute mark, Columbia’s defense was overwhelmed as grad student midfielder Joey Bhangdia threaded the needle between three white jerseys to find freshman Korzeniowski, who put the ball out in front and ripped a far post shot from just inside the box. The shot deflected off the glove of Columbia’s keeper but was too powerful to save, and Penn tied the game up.

"I think Stas is a good example of a player who has come in as a freshman, has taken on a lot of coaching, has taken on a lot of feedback from his teammates, and is implementing things that he's being asked to do," Gill said.

"I was ecstatic to see it go in the back of the net," Korzeniowski said.

Both teams began feeling pressure as the clock approached 90 minutes. Each played with more urgency following Korzeniowski’s goal, but neither were able to find the back of the net again.

Tensions ran high as both teams labored on in the extra period. The first overtime period was dominated by Penn, who had some chances with a shot from senior Ben Stitz at the five-minute mark and a corner soon after that freshman Charlie Gaffney deflected but Columbia’s keeper picked up. Korzeniowski took another shot with just two minutes to play in the period.

Columbia poured the pressure on in the second overtime period with two quality shots: one just wide, and the other saved by Christoffersen. The clock reached 20 minutes and the game concluded, leaving both Penn and Columbia without a win in the Ivy League.

"I think that we had had a strong attacking presence the whole game and we had a lot of momentum, and we just needed one play to break through and tie the game," Korzeniowski said. "And as a striker, that’s my responsibility, it’s what I work towards: scoring goals or creating plays to set up goal-scoring opportunities." 

The tie adds to a nine-year winless streak for the Quakers when they meet Columbia: the Lions have won seven of their previous nine match-ups and tied the other two.

The Quakers are now 0-1-1 in conference play, placing them in fifth in the Ivy League with Harvard and Columbia. They will take on Drexel (5-4-1) at home this Tuesday, and their next conference game is at home this Saturday against Dartmouth (1-8-0).

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