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The Yale men’s soccer team triumphed over Columbia in a 3–1 win on Saturday night, jumping to second in the Ivy League rankings with just two games left in the conference season.

The Bulldogs (6–4–4, 3–0–2 Ivy) took an early 2–0 lead against the Lions (1–9–4, 0–3–2 Ivy) before conceding their first goal in Ivy play in the last few minutes of the first half. The Elis returned to the field with fire on both offense and defense, outshooting Columbia 10–1 in the second half. Defender Daniel Massaad ’24 found the back of the net for Yale’s third goal of the game and his first career tally.

“The energy is always especially good after a win,” head coach Kylie Stannard wrote in an email to the News. “But the guys are focused and determined to finish strong and give ourselves a chance to win the Ivy League and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. We can only control our performance against Brown, so we will give that everything we have and see where the chips fall.”

Yale wasted no time in the early going. Less than ten minutes into the game, forward Paolo Carroll ’23 dribbled down the left side of the field, using his pace and footwork to get past the Columbia defense. Once inside the penalty box, Carroll slotted a ball across the face of the goal with his left foot, finding forward Eric Lagos ’23. Lagos beat the Columbia defender to the ball and redirected Carroll’s pass into the net. Carroll and Lagos lead the Bulldogs in scoring this season with seven and five goals, respectively.

The Blue and White doubled its lead in the 34th minute as defender Gelber Lemus ’25 served a corner kick into the box. An aerial challenge from defender Jeremy Haddock ’23 prevented the Lions from clearing the ball. After bouncing around among the scrum of players in front of the net, the ball landed at the feet of forward Kahveh Zahiroleslam ’24 on the back post. Zahiroleslam tapped the ball into the net for his fourth tally of the year.

Entering the contest, Yale had not conceded a single goal in Ivy League play. The Bulldog defense is currently tied for first in the Ivy League with Princeton, conceding just 15 goals in all games this season. The Elis’ Ancient Eight shutout streak came to an end on Saturday night, however, as Columbia converted on a chance five minutes before halftime. A failed clearance after the ball was sent into the box allowed a Columbia forward to tap the ball past Yale keeper Elian Haddock ’23.

Despite losing the momentum at the end of the first half, the Elis maintained a clean sheet for the rest of the contest. The Bulldog defense minimized chances for the Columbia offense, which recorded only a single shot in the final 45 minutes. In the 67th minute, the Blue and White nearly scored on a free kick as Lemus connected with Lagos, whose header forced a diving save from the Columbia keeper. Eight minutes later, Yale converted on another set piece and extended its lead to two. Massaad — who played on the 2019 Ivy championship team before taking a leave last year — tracked down a corner kick at the back post and recorded his first career goal.

Both of Yale’s corner kick goals came on balls from Lemus. Lemus’ services throughout the game put pressure on the Columbia defense and led to numerous scoring chances. When asked about the importance of corner kicks to the team’s offense, Stannard said that Yale’s services have been “a little inconsistent for us this year.”

“Against Columbia we saw the importance of scoring early in the game and then managing our lead,” Carroll said. “It was a mature performance from the team and shows how much we have improved from the start of the season.”

Massaad’s goal highlighted a dominant second half for the Elis. In addition to only allowing one shot, the Blue and White recorded six shots on goal. The three goals against Columbia marked the Elis’ most goals scored in an Ancient Eight contest this year. The Bulldogs, who rely on their strong defense to limit opponents’ chances, currently rank sixth in goals scored among Ivy League teams.

The win against Columbia propelled Yale to second in the Ivy League rankings, trailing Princeton by four points. The Tigers, like the Bulldogs, remain undefeated in conference play. Before playing Princeton in the last conference game of the season, the Elis will take on Brown this Saturday. The Bears (5–8–1, 2–2–1 Ivy) are coming off of a two-game win streak, most recently grabbing a 2–0 victory over Penn. Yale and Penn tied 0–0 on Oct. 23.

“The win against Colombia means that we can continue to fight for the Ivy League title,” defender Jake Schaffer ’24 said. “It puts us in a chance to win the league with two games left. The only thing we can do at this point is focus on beating Brown, and getting an important 3 points in our last home game of the season.”

In two weeks, Yale and Princeton will face off in the last Ivy League challenge of the season in what may be a deciding game for the championship title. Princeton (10–5–0, 5–0–0 Ivy) has not lost a game since playing Temple on Oct. 6. The dominant Tiger offense includes senior midfielder Kevin O’Toole, who was named both United Soccer Coaches and Top Drawer Soccer’s National Player of the Week after playing a part in five of Princeton’s six goals last week.

Yale and Brown kick off at Reese Stadium this Saturday at 4 p.m.

DREW BECKMEN
ALESSA KIM-PANERO