As the rest of the student body returned to campus this past week, the Princeton men’s soccer team commenced its season with a series of non-conference games. The team failed to pick up a win, but its performance leaves much room for optimism for the coming season.
Princeton began its season with a tough road matchup against a nationally ranked team, No. 8 Syracuse. After a first half in which neither team was able to convert a goal, freshman Frankie DeRosa, in his first collegiate game, scored Princeton’s first goal of the season at the 69:36 mark to give the team a 1-0 lead. Despite losing a player to a red card midway through the second half, Syracuse tied the game with a long-range shot from John-Austin Ricks at the 83:32 mark. Neither team was able to score again in the end of regulation or overtime, so the game ended in a 1-1 draw, a relatively favorable outcome for Princeton’s road debut.
Later that weekend, the team remained in upstate New York for a match against Colgate. Princeton was unable to generate enough offense to bring home a win, losing 1-0, with the lone goal coming courtesy of Troy Moo Penn in the 65th minute. The offense cobbled together a handful of scoring opportunities in the second half, but were stifled repeatedly by the Colgate goalkeeper.
Finally, the Tigers returned to Roberts Stadium to make their home debut against Seton Hall. This match featured considerably more offense than either of the previous two, with Princeton falling in overtime 4-3. The Tigers leaped out to a 3-0 lead, with all three goals coming within seven minutes of each other. Senior James Reiner scored two goals, and Junior Jeremy Colvin added another. However, after shutting down Seton Hall in the first half, the Princeton defense lapsed in the second, conceding three goals. The first came off a defensive mistake on a corner kick, and the game-tying goal came on a late set-piece free kick at the 89:58 mark. In the second overtime, Seton Hall would score yet another goal off a set piece to secure a 4-3 win and hand Princeton a disappointing loss.
Despite the losses and draw, the opening week bodes well for a Princeton team that finished in the middle of the pack in last year’s Ivy League standings. The team faces the daunting task of replacing graduated seniors Greg Seifert, last season’s leading goal scorer, and Patrick Barba, both members of the Ivy League First Team. They will benefit from, among others, the return of Junior Midfielder Sean McSherry, a member of last year’s Ivy League Second Team and the addition of Frankie DeRosa, who made his presence known with a goal in his first match.
Princeton will continue its non-conference schedule this Friday at home against South Illinois University, as it seeks to continue to improve and prepare for the all-important gauntlet of Ivy League matches.