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Mixed Results for Fall Sports Teams

HIGH AND LOWS: Quaterback Paris Childress '99 led
the Lions to victory on the West Coast against St. Mary's
but missed four games in midseason due to injury.

Columbia's football team went on an ultimately unsatisfying roller-coaster ride in 1998, a season in which some remarkable highs were matched and eventually exceeded by disappointing lows. The Lions equaled their 1997 record of 4-6, with a 3-4 mark in Ivy play that included exhilarating victories over Harvard and Dartmouth and a frustrating, season-ending loss to Brown that cost Columbia a chance for only its third winning league record since 1971.

 "We just came up shorter than we wanted to in too many games," said Coach Ray Tellier. "It's about finishing, and there's a bottom line to it all. For all the good things that happen, you still measure that bottom line. And that's what makes it frustrating, for everybody."

Columbia's inability to finish was the story of the 10-3 loss to Brown. Three times Columbia drove to within the Bruins' three-yard line, only to come up empty each time.

 The season began with a rousing 24-0 rout of defending Ivy champion Harvard on a gloriously sunny Homecoming Saturday before more than 10,000 at Wien Stadium. The Lions then dropped a 27-20 decision to a tough Bucknell squad before making their first journey to the West Coast since the 1934 Rose Bowl and beating St. Mary's 20-17 in Homecoming West.

 The season's turning point came in the form of a last-minute, 47-yard field goal that gave Lehigh a 20-19 decision on October 10, starting Columbia on a four-game losing streak. With quarterback Paris Childress '99 sidelined by a broken foot, the Lions were shut out twice in the next three games as they bowed to Penn, Yale and Princeton.

 Just when the season was on the brink of disaster, Columbia rallied to beat Dartmouth 24-14, the Lions' first win in Hanover since 1946. A 22-10 victory over Cornell put the Lions within reach of a winning Ivy record, but the loss to Brown dashed those hopes.

 Among the bright spots for the Lions was the play of a defensive unit that blanked Harvard and held an explosive Brown offense to a season-low 10 points. Columbia's rushing defense was consistently strong, with end Rashaan Curry '99 and linebacker Paul Roland '99 earning All-Ivy First Team honors along with safety Chris Tillotson '99, who was a unanimous selection. In addition to anchoring the secondary, Tillotson excelled as a kick returner and even contributed a 20-yard touchdown reception against Cornell. 

Offensively, the injury to Childress disrupted the Lions' attack, although Ted Schroeder '99 had some solid moments filling in and Jason Bivens '00, an All-Ivy Second Team choice at his rover position on defense, swung over to offense and effectively ran the option play at quarterback. Columbia's ground game was a plus, with Johnathan Reese '02 earning Ivy Rookie of the Year honors and joining All-Ivy First Team member Kirby Mack '00 and Norman Hayes '00 in carrying the load.

 Guard Dave Curtis '99 and linebacker Kevin Wright '00 joined Bivens in receiving All-Ivy Second Team honors.

The women's soccer team enjoyed its finest season ever, using an outstanding defense to compile a 12-3-4 record and a 3-3-2 mark in Ivy play that was good for third place in the league, Columbia's highest placing ever. Although the team barely missed a bid to the NCAA tournament, the season was a tremendous success and marked something of the end of an era for the Lions and coach Kevin McCarthy.

 "I got this job in 1994 and I had to jump in a day or two before preseason started," McCarthy said. "Obviously there wasn't a whole lot of time to recruit that year, but I did know of this one player in Massachusetts who I had the good fortune to coach in soccer camp, and she was my first phone call, let alone my first recruit." That player was Tosh Forde '99, Columbia's two-time captain and all-time leading scorer. "So Tosh, besides all her marvelous statistical achievements, really has seen this team rise from the ashes to the point we're at right now," added McCarthy. 

A highlight of the season was a nine-game unbeaten stretch from September 23 through October 20 that included four shutouts by goalkeeper Ali Ahern '00 and the stalwart defense led by co-captain Katie Gifford '99. Midfielder Kerry Martin '00 and defender Logan Coyle '02 earned All-Ivy Second Team honors. Eight of the Lions' 19 games went into overtime, including the season finale against Yale that consisted of 150 minutes of scoreless play before Columbia was defeated on penalty kicks.

The men's soccer team did not fare as well, posting a 5-8-3 mark and a 2-3-2 Ivy record that left the Lions next-to-last in the conference. "It was a frustrating season, full of games we should have won but didn't," said tri-captain Anthony Balsamo '99. Columbia's play was marked by inconsistency, both within games and over the course of the season. The Lions opened their Ivy slate by beating Harvard 2-0 and also played eventual champion Brown to a tie, but could do no better than a tie against cellar-dwelling Penn and closed out the season with losses to Dartmouth and Cornell. Midfielders Rino Matarazzo '99 and Greg Smalling '99 earned All-Ivy First and Second Team honors, respectively.

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