Women’s Soccer Nets Three Goals In Comeback Win Against Dartmouth

Women’s Soccer Nets Three Goals In Comeback Win Against Dartmouth

BY ADAM LANG

OCTOBER 24, 2021

After a 1-0 loss to Princeton last week, Columbia women’s soccer continued conference play in New Hampshire on Saturday, securing a 3-2 victory over Dartmouth in an action-packed game.

For the majority of the game, the Light Blue (8-5-1, 2-3 Ivy) was at a disadvantage, forced to play defense as the Big Green (5-6-1, 1-4 Ivy) controlled the ball and sent constant threats down the pitch. The fight from behind started when the Lions conceded a goal from 20 yards away just over three minutes into the game, and it looked like the game might slip away from the Lions, who were outshot by the Big Green 18-6.

“I thought Dartmouth had us on our heels. They came out really high-pressuring us,” head coach Tracey Bartholomew said. “We were struggling to keep [the ball], and they were defending really well and won the ball and some great spots.”

As the Lions settled down and got used to the grass pitch at Dartmouth, they produced some counterattacks of their own. However, the Dartmouth defense gave Columbia trouble. The Big Green was especially vigilant in the last 30 yards of the pitch, shutting down passing lanes, making right tackles and clearances, and sending through-balls down the line to the forwards as soon as the Dartmouth players had their feet on the ball.

While the Lions did not have a shot until the 43rd minute, they cashed in on the opportunity when it arose, scoring their first goal on that attempt. An overhead pass into the box was deflected by a Big Green defender right back to Lion sophomore forward Kendall McBride, who, with quick reflexes, tapped the ball into the back of the net. Before this goal, the Light Blue had almost lost faith.

“We were fortunate to get that goal to tie it up, and I think it helped our team believe that we could play,” Bartholomew said.

Columbia started the second half on equal footing with Dartmouth, and the Lions adjusted their tactics to retain possession better in the midfield and create more opportunities in offense. Bartholomew decided to reward McBride, who scored her first collegiate goal, with more playing time.

“We made an adjustment that Kendall McBride went into the game in the first half and helped create a lot,” Bartholomew said. “She stayed up top [in the second half] and we had Natalia and Ally playing in the midfield to just try to help us keep the ball a little bit better, and that was sort of an adjustment that really helped us.”

The Light Blue started the second half like a different team, seizing every opportunity to score. In the first 10 minutes of the half, the Lions sent two shots toward the goal and earned a corner kick, playing more in their comfort zone.

The results came quickly. Junior forward Ally Clark scored off a brilliant corner kick service by first-year defender Ava Zlatchin, capitalizing off chaos in the penalty box. Just three minutes later, sophomore forward Nata Ramirez burst into the box, receiving a setup from McBride and tipping the ball over the goalkeeper’s head. Suddenly, Columbia had turned the frustrating game around with a two-goal advantage over the home team.

However, the Big Green did not panic. Just over four minutes later, Dartmouth scored on a bullet from right on the line of the penalty box. It was the second goal from outside of the box in this game and the third consecutive goal the Lions had allowed from outside the box—including last week’s game at Princeton.

From the 70th minute on, the story of the first half began to repeat itself. Dartmouth had 10 shot attempts in the last 20 minutes of the game, but sophomore goalkeeper Paige Nurkin made five saves, and the defensive line prevented a goal in an open-net situation after Nurkin made two consecutive saves at the top of the box against Dartmouth’s forward charge.

Bartholomew acknowledged the crucial role Nurkin played in obstructing Dartmouth’s offensive plan.

“Dartmouth was pretty good in the air,” Bartholomew said. “Paige came in and caught a couple of balls that were inside the six, which helped us out just to get to the end of the game.”

After this win, the Lions keep their hopes alive for finishing in the top three as they next face the poor-performing Yale Bulldogs (2-12, 1-4 Ivy), and their direct opponent for the third spot, Harvard (10-2-1, 3-2 Ivy).

If the Lions can harness the momentum from this win and go on a winning streak, there is a chance that they might see an NCAA tournament appearance.

“We’ve got three teams right now in the Ivy League that are in the top 25 in the country, top 30. It’s an incredible conference right now, and we’re hoping that, obviously, there’s a top champion, and I’m hoping the NCAA takes at least one or two more teams,” Bartholomew said.

On Saturday, Oct. 30, Columbia will host Yale at home at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.

Staff writer Adam Lang can be contacted at adam.lang@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator Sports on Twitter @CUSpecSports.


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