The No. 21 men's soccer team kicked off its defense of the Ivy League title Saturday night by defeating Columbia 2-1. After playing four consecutive games on the road, the squad (8-1, 1-0 Ivy) returned home to an enthusiastic crowd and delivered a crowd-pleasing result at Stevenson Field against the Lions (2-6-1, 0-1 Ivy).
Last season, the Bears fell to the Lions in double overtime, so Bruno was focused on kicking off conference play with both a solid win and a dose of revenge.
"It was a good result last night for our first league game," said co-captain Eric Robertson '13. "The Ivy League is always tough - every team makes the game a battle for at least 90 minutes."
The two squads came out strong, but good defense on both sides kept the game scoreless at the half. The Lions led the Bears 6-4 in shots in the first 45 minutes of play.
"After the first half, (Head Coach Patrick Laughlin) called us out," said co-captain Ryan McDuff '13. "We played well in Washington, but he told us we needed to put that behind us and focus on tonight."
"I think there were some nerves and excitement in the first half, and that didn't allow us to play as well as we wanted to," said defender Dylan Remick '13. But, as Remick explained, the team was able to execute its game plan more effectively in the second half.
Following the break, Bruno came out strong, outshooting the Lions 7-1 in the first 13 minutes.
In the 70th minute, Bobby Belair '13 was taken down in the box and Bruno was awarded a penalty kick. Midfielder Thomas McNamara '12.5 took the shot, sailing it past the Lions' goalkeeper to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
After the first goal struck home, the Bears were rejuvenated. Just six minutes later, Daniel Taylor '15 drove in a pass from Remick to push Bruno's lead to 2-0.
The Lions responded in the 82nd minute as freshman Antonio Matarazzo scored on a long-range strike for his first career goal.
"It was a frustrating goal to give up because it was Columbia's only real scoring chance of the night," said goalie Sam Kernan-Schloss '13.
The Bears shut out six of their first eight opponents this season, and Remick said the team was disappointed it couldn't add another Saturday night. "We pride ourselves on clean sheets and finishing out games, and we made it a very difficult last 10 minutes by allowing them to score."
"It was great to have another game with multiple goals for us," Laughlin said. "The players continue to show improvement, and I was pleased with the team for their toughness over 90 minutes."
"We didn't play our best soccer last night, but we found a way to win," Robertson said. "That's what makes this team great. Whether we're playing beautiful soccer or enduring a sloppy game, we have the mentality that we're going to win and that has continued to get us good results."