The Princeton men’s soccer team completed one of its season’s quickest and most challenging turnarounds this weekend. The Tigers elevated their overall record to 2-3-0 with an impressive win over the Villanova Wildcats (5-2-0) on Sunday afternoon. The victory came less than 48 hours after a narrow loss at the feet of Georgetown (6-0-1) Friday night.
The bouts with the No. 12-ranked Hoyas and the Wildcats capped off Princeton’s five-game tour of the Big East, which included a victory over Seton Hall in the season opener and losses to Rutgers and then-No.12 Saint John’s Red Storm.
“When you only play 17 games in a season you want to play good teams,” head coach Jim Barlow ’91 said of the strong opening schedule. “That’s why we like playing the Big East — you know you are going to get good games.”
The Tigers came out of the gates strong, pressuring Georgetown in its own territory at the game’s start. However, it was the Hoyas who tallied the game’s first score 13 minutes into the contest. The play started off of a Georgetown free kick from just outside the box. The free kick hit the far post and ricocheted back out before it was arced across the box and headed toward the net by Hoya forward Steve Neumann.
With the ball just in front of the net, it was redirected into the goal by forward Brandon Allen. The goal added to the freshman’s already impressive season numbers. Allen came into the game leading Georgetown with four goals and an assist. The Princeton offense could not offer a response in the half and was outshot 10-4 in the period.
In the second half the Tiger offense turned up the heat on the Hoyas, peppering its defense with 13 shot attempts to Georgetown’s seven. Despite a brilliant effort to close out the game Princeton could not convert shots to points and was held scoreless for the third consecutive game. Sophomore midfielder Julian Griggs, freshman midfielder Brendan McSherry and freshman foward Nico Hurtado came close to knotting up the game with three shots in the final six minutes, but narrow misses and a block preserved Georgetown’s early lead. In the end Allen’s fifth goal of the season ended up deciding the game as Princeton fell 1-0 to the undefeated Hoyas.
The game marked the first appearance of the season for Princeton’s junior goalkeeper Seth MacMillan, who started against Georgetown after senior Max Gallin played the entirety of the Tigers’ first three games in the net. MacMillan came away with six saves on the night before tacking on another four while shutting out Villanova for his first win of the season.
“The two goalies are so close right now, and we wanted to give Seth a shot,” Barlow said about his decision to give the nod to MacMillan. “And I think he played well tonight.”
On Sunday at Villanova, Princeton kept up its intensity from the second half of Friday night’s contest and netted the game’s first goal in the 27th minute. Freshman forward Thomas Sanner knocked in a pass from sophomore forward Cameron Porter to put the Tigers on top in the first half.
Sanner’s first career goal would end up being the game winner as Princeton’s tenacious defense silenced a potent Wildcat offense that had put up 18 goals in its first six games including five in a comeback win over Penn on Friday. The freshman’s goal, added to his two assists versus Seton Hall, gives him the team lead in points with four.
The Tigers will be returning to Roberts Stadium this weekend to begin a five-game home stand. Princeton will kick off against Rider at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 in the second game of the Princeton Invitational. The Tigers will then battle Fairleigh Dickinson on Sept. 23 in their final game before opening league play.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/18/31130/