Columbus avenges lacrosse loss

Action from the first Lehman-Columbus lacrosse match of the season, as freshman Marcus Chajecki attempts to create an offensive opportunity for Lehman, with Columbus’ Eric Ketemepi giving pursuit. - Photo by Walter Pofeldt

After a long wait, last year’s lacrosse wars between Lehman and Columbus were finally rekindled on Tuesday, May 6, with the Explorers slipping past the Lions 8-7 off a goal by Alejandro Gonzalez with only 14 seconds remaining in regulation. 

The victory was Columbus’ first over their Bronx rivals, with Lehman besting the Explorers in their only two meetings in 2007. 

The two schools introduced lacrosse to the Bronx, joining a developmental league, as part of the PSAL’s effort to introduce new sports programs into the curriculum. 

“This is the second year for both of our teams,” said head coach for Lehman Eugene Li, “We’re happy to bring such a great sport to the Bronx.”

Columbus, who is fairing much better in the Orange Division, with a 9-1 record, as opposed to  the struggling Lions (3-6).

In their latest battle, Columbus scored first, as former Lehman student Ronald Barrera picked up an unassisted goal in the early stages of the game.

The action packed quarter was rounded out by three unanswered Lehman goals – an unassisted shot by sophomore Julian Norman, a shot by senior Alberd Misku with an assist from junior Mario Cortes and a goal by junior Matt Pecoroni.

With the score 3-1, Columbus came back fighting with an almost immediate goal from senior Corey Ravenel, off an assist by senior Desean Moore.

This intensity didn’t last, however, as Lehman added another goal, off an unassisted shot by Cortes. The teams battled in the final minutes of the half, with Columbus scoring two more goals, by Alban Ukaj and Alejandro Gonzalez, respectively, and Lehman pulling ahead 5-4 off a second goal by Pecoroni.

Columbus dominated the third quarter, scoring two goals, one by each of the Ukaj brothers, Ilir and Alban, while holding Lehman to one goal from Alberd Misku, leaving the scored tied at 6 apiece going into the final minutes of play.

Both teams would add one goal each and remained knotted at 7 until a pass by Moore with only seconds left on the clock, found its way to Gonzalez for the final score. 

“We played a tough game and played it hard,” said Li, “We have both made improvements and come a long way. Our guys still have a long way to go.”

Columbus coach Victor Arroyo was happy with the win, but did not want the Bronx battle to overshadow their goals for the season.

“We have three more games to play,” said Arroyo.  “We need to stay focused in order to reach our goals.”

Columbus would go on to beat James Madison 10-5 later that week and are expected to be a team that will surprise many opponents in the playoffs ahead.     

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