After 102 minutes of relentless, physical play, the men’s soccer team created a final great opportunity deep in the Harvard end when senior defender Mark Linnville launched a long throw-in from the left sideline. This time, the Tigers’ efforts paid off. Linnville’s toss sailed into the box, flicking the head of freshman defender Josh Miller in traffic and bouncing up in the air before settling at the feet of sophomore midfielder Alex Wettermann. Wettermann took a quick settling touch with space before rocketing a right-footed shot from 12 yards out, beating the keeper to the right.
The goal, the first of Wettermann’s Princeton career, catapulted Princeton to a 2-1 victory over the rival Crimson and incited mass celebration at Roberts Stadium on Saturday evening.
“We’ve been really dangerous on [long throw-ins] and getting guys in the box,” head coach Jim Barlow ’91 said after the game. “Wettermann looked really composed. It got flicked on and bounced up, and it looked like it took forever, but I thought he finished it really calmly. It was a really good goal.”
The overtime victory marked the fifth overtime contest in the last six games for the Tigers (6-5-2 overall, 2-0-2 Ivy League), who remained undefeated in Ivy League play. In addition, it broke Princeton’s four-game winless streak, putting the Tigers in the win column for the first time since defeating Dartmouth on Sept. 29. Harvard (2-8-3, 0-3-1) entered the match following a victory at Boston University that ended an eight-game stretch without a win.
With the players on both teams intent on ending Ivy League winless streaks and defeating their rivals, play quickly took on a very physical character. Referees called 21 fouls and gave out three yellow cards in the contest. Although both teams created many scoring opportunities, the match remained a stalemate deep into the second half.
“A big thing for us was that it had been so long since we’d scored,” Barlow remarked. “We don’t score against Adelphi, we don’t score against Columbia. We thought we played well, but we still weren’t finishing it off.”
The Tigers finally did break through in the 84th minute. After coming up close on numerous opportunities, the Princeton offense finally capitalized when junior midfielder Chris Benedict sent a short pass to junior midfielder Dylan Bowman with space on the left flank. Bowman launched a right-footed cross bending toward the far post, where Linnville streaked past two defenders to rocket a header into the net.
The celebration had barely ended, however, when Harvard responded. In the 86th minute, Crimson forward Brian Rogers dribbled to the end line on the right and fired a low, right-footed cross back through the box. The pass was grazed by sliding midfielder Matt Sheeleigh before forward Zack Wolfenzon, streaking into the box, slotted the ball low past Princeton junior keeper Seth MacMillan.
“We probably should have had more guys behind the ball and been a little safer on the buildup to that play,” Barlow admitted. “We should have been disciplined enough to not give one up. At that point, it’s easy for a team to get discouraged … but to our guys’ credit, I think we jumped right back on top of them in overtime.”
The first overtime period did not see a goal, but both sides created several chances. A Harvard foray into Princeton territory was thwarted when a Sheeleigh ball over the top found midfielder Andrew Chang in an offside position. Princeton was awarded multiple corner kicks in the period but could not capitalize on any.
With an important victory over its Ivy League rival secured, the Tigers will now turn their attention to 10th-ranked Cornell (12-1, 3-1) next Saturday in Ithaca. The Big Red will certainly pose a challenge, but Princeton is confident.
“We’re undefeated in the Ivy League. We’re still in the hunt,” Barlow said.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/22/31597/