Men's Soccer: Seniors lead hosts to 3-0 rout of Penn
From players perpetually in the starting lineup to those who lead the reserve team, nearly every member of the men’s soccer team’s Class of 2013 played a key role in the Tigers’ home shutout of Penn on Saturday night. Among those seniors standing out in Princeton’s home finale was Max Gallin, who reassumed the role of starting goalkeeper — which he held for nearly all of the 2011-12 season — and confirmed his ability to lead the team to an overwhelming victory.
Gallin played all 90 minutes and made four saves in his last game at Roberts Stadium. Two of those saves came on back-to-back shots in the last two minutes of the game, ensuring the Tigers (7-6-2 overall, 3-1-2 Ivy League) kept a clean sheet in their 3-0 rout of the Quakers.
Penn (2-13, 0-6), for its part, kept Princeton scoreless for nearly the entire first half. The Tigers “had all cylinders going on Saturday night,” as senior forward Matt Sanner noted, but it took the first 30 minutes for the hosts to truly find their dominance on the offensive end.
Freshman forward Thomas Sanner assisted the Princeton senior class in its stellar play and opened up one of the team’s numerous attacks on goal in the 34th minute, shooting past Penn goalie Max Kurtzman for the first score. His brother attempted his own shot on goal less than 10 minutes later in an attempt to stretch the lead before halftime, but Kurtzman blocked Thomas Sanner’s header.
Princeton walked onto the field with even more fire in the second half. Within the first eight minutes, sophomore defender Myles McGinley collected a pass from Matt Sanner and weaved through Penn’s defense, finding the net from long range with little difficulty.
“Everything was going right, so the last step was to put the ball in the net — and it was bittersweet because we could have done that all year. We had a lot of those kinds of chances in pretty much every game,” Matt Sanner said. “We’ve always been confident in our offensive ability even though we haven’t put in as many goals as we think we should have this season. We definitely followed through this time.”
Perhaps symbolically, the Tigers’ final goal in their final home game came from one of the senior captains. In the 76th minute, defender Mark Linnville took a rare offensive chance and followed through, heading a corner past Penn’s goalie.
But Princeton received disappointing news on Saturday evening despite its momentous victory. The news traveled from Ithaca, N.Y., when Cornell’s 2-1 overtime win against Dartmouth mathematically knocked Princeton out of the 2012-13 Ivy League title race. Though the Tigers have one more conference game against Yale next Saturday, Cornell is now 5-1 with 15 points; Princeton is 3-1-2 with 11 and will end the season with at most 14 points.
“I was talking with my dad after our Cornell game [a 1-0 loss on Oct. 27], and it was like, ‘OK, there’s not really a chance of winning the Ivy League anymore.’ Now I’m just focused on going out there and enjoying practicing with my little brother,’’ Matt Sanner said. “Now we’re all remembering to enjoy the game we’ve all been playing since a young age. There’s not the same kind of pressure there anymore ... Sometimes you get to the end of a season, and if your spot is up for grabs until the last game, you don’t really have time to think about those things until it’s all over. So now we have time to think and just enjoy what we have left.”
While Saturday’s game marked the final home contest for most seniors, two Tiger veterans — the team’s cocaptains, Linnville and Matt Sanner — hope to continue their careers beyond college. After the season ends, they will try to earn invitations to the Major League Soccer combine, Sanner said, and possibly follow former Tigers such as Teddy Schneider ’11 and Antoine Hoppenot ’12 to America’s professional league.
Before that process begins, they and the Tigers will make two trips to Connecticut this week, starting with Fairfield on Wednesday in the team’s final nonleague matchup. Princeton will then head to New Haven on Saturday to conclude its season against Yale.
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