Sports | Soccer

Riding hot streak, Light Blue men’s soccer faces Fordham on road

  • Youjin Jenny Jang for Spectator
    Strong Start | Men’s soccer, led by first-year forward Nicholas Pappacena, has outscored its opponents by a score of 10 to two.

The men’s soccer team (4-2) hasn’t had a run like this in 11 years. Over the course of its winning streak, it has outscored its foes—Iona, Manhattan, Northeastern, and LIU—by a combined total of 10 goals to two. The last time it put together such a dominant four-game stretch was at the beginning of the 2002 season, when it outscored Lafayette, Northwestern, Fordham, and Marist, 14 to 3.

The team has a chance to make it five good performances in a row on Sunday at Fordham (2-5).

In its win over LIU Brooklyn on Friday, the Light Blue got off to a relatively slow start. It outshot the Blackbirds only 3-2 in the first 13 minutes. The Lions held a 27-3 advantage over the rest of the match, although they didn’t score until early in the second half after substituting in first-year midfielder Ron Zori and senior striker Will Stamatis. The former All-Ivy forward scored off a rebound of a shot from Zori.

“That’s the great thing about this team,” Zori said. “Everybody knows their role. If it’s me or a different player, we’re going to play the same.”

Later in the half, Zori tallied his first college goal, and first-year forward Nicholas Pappacena got his as well after coming on in relief of Stamatis. Senior midfielder David Najem put a ball through the air behind the defense, and Pappacena beat the Blackbirds’ defense and keeper to the ball, chipping it into the net.

“Being a center forward, my preferred playing style is playing behind the backs of the central defenders,” Pappacena said in an email last week. “I can beat them with speed, so my teammates play me through balls to goal.”

Sophomore defensive midfielder Antonio Matarazzo noted that despite the team’s strong play, the slow starts are still a concern.

“We still need that mentality to switch on immediately, when the game starts, instead of going halfway through a game and not performing as well as we should,” he said.

Fordham has done damage in the first half this season, outscoring opponents 5-3. However, the Rams haven’t gotten the results in the remainder of their matches, being outscored by two in second halves and dropping two games in double overtime.

Coming off their fourth loss in a row, the Rams fell to Temple 1-0 on Wednesday. Their offense has been shut out three times in the last four games, including 1-0 to Northeastern, which Columbia defeated on Saturday. Fordham’s 2-5 start is its worst since 2009, when it lost its first six, although it did recover to post a winning season.

Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. at Fordham.

muneeb.alam@columbiaspectator.com | @muneebalamcu

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