Men’s Soccer Kicks Off 2023 at Home Friday Night – Columbia University Athletics

NEW YORK — The 2023 Columbia men’s soccer season begins Friday night at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium when the Lions host Lehigh (0-1-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

Fans unable to attend Friday’s season opener can watch live on ESPN+. Fans can also track the live stats courtesy of In-game updates will also be provided on the @CULionsMSOC Twitter and Instagram accounts.

The Lions began a new coaching era after Michael Casper was appointed head coach in July. Casper brings over 20 years of collegiate coaching experience, including serving as head coach at Saint Francis University (2007-14). He joins the Lions after a four-year stint as an assistant coach at Georgetown, where he won the 2019 NCAA Championship.

Casper recently announced the hire of assistant coaches Tobias Esche and Jason Orban. Esche arrives from nearby Yeshiva University, where he served as head coach and Assistant Athletics Director for Fundraising during the 2022-23 academic year. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at Quinnipiac (2020-22). Orban spent the last four years as an assistant coach at St. Francis Brooklyn, helping guide the Terriers to back-to-back NEC Regular Season Championships in the spring and fall of 2021.

The Lions return 15 players that competed in 10 or more games last season. Six of them appeared in the Starting XI at least 10 times – Michael Collodi (15), Carmine Falco (15), Alessandro Franciosa (15), Matthew Leong (15), David Walley (15), Jack Muoio (13).

In goal, senior keeper Michael Collodi begins his fourth competition season. The two-time All-Ivy Honorable Mention ranked second in the Ivy League in both total saves (56) and saves per game (3.73) last season, as well as top 100 in the NCAA in saves, saves per game and save percentage (.737).

Among the players returning on the back line is senior Matthew Leong. A native of Hoboken, New Jersey, Leone earned Second Team All-Ivy League honors last year. The center-back played and started 15 of the team’s 16 matches, amassing 1,279 minutes (85.27 per game). He helped the Lions to four shutouts, including a 1-0 victory over perennial powerhouse St. John’s. Leong played all 90 minutes 11 times last year, including all seven Ivy League games.

The Lions hope to improve in the attacking third this season. Their top returning goal scorer is sophomore midfielder Joao Lima, who netted two last year in a 1-0 win over St. John’s and a 1-1 draw with Harvard. He was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on October 10. Five others found the back of the net once.

Five new faces join the roster this season, which include first-years Lyon Atiencia, Chad Baker, Jackson ten Oever and Jay Sonthalia, along with sophomore transfer Christoph Kuttner. All five developed their skills at some of the nation’s top youth academies. Atiencia (New York Soccer Club) and Baker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy) join the midfield. Local product Jackson ten Oever (Met Oval) arrives from Brooklyn and will look to be a presence on the back line. Jay Sonthalia (LAFC Academy) adds depth between the posts. Christoph Kuttner (SK Stresovice 1911) transfers in as a sophomore from Radford and hopes to add more of a threat to Columbia’s attack.

This past spring, Columbia men’s soccer announced the signing of nine-year-old Elijah Albino to the team’s 2023 roster. Elijah officially became a member of the program through his signing, made possible by Team IMPACT.

Related: Columbia Men’s Soccer Signs Elijah Albino Through Team IMPACT

Elijah was diagnosed with a lifelong renal disease that affects his day-to-day life. Despite the challenges he faces, Elijah preservers through it all and shows incredible toughness and character.

“Elijah is an outstanding and spontaneous person. He cares for people and he has a unique personality,” said his mother, Carmen, at the signing in March. “You just want to feed into it all the time and you can’t get enough of it. This opportunity for him to encourage others to be the most and not settle for less is just amazing … Seeing the team all participate and be interested in this nine-year-old boy running around was magical.”

For the latest on Columbia men’s soccer, be sure to follow the team on Twitter and Instagram (@CULionsMSOC), on Facebook (ColumbiaMensSoccer), or by visiting

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