In their final tune-up before the conference-heavy home stretch of the season, Princeton men’s soccer (6–4–1, 1–0–1 Ivy League) dominated St John’s on paper for most of regulation but were unable to score in the first 90 minutes. It took only two minutes after the start of overtime, however, for junior forward/midfielder Cole Morokhovich to find the back of the net, scoring the first goal of his career and winning the game for the Tigers.
The game against the Red Storm, an annual tradition since 2011, was played in Queens this year.
Princeton almost took the lead in the opening moments, when sophomore forward/midfielder Gaby Paniagua beat St. John’s keeper Tyron Matuta with a shot from the top of the box in the third minute, only to see it go off the post and out of play.
His effort in the 23rd minute had a similar result, though this time Matuta pushed it wide.
The remainder of the first half looked much the same, as Princeton dominated possession throughout. By the end of the 45 minutes, the Tigers had tallied nine shots to the Red Storm’s one.
In the second half, however, the tides seemed to have turned, as St. John’s came out looking considerably more forceful and cohesive with their play. In the 71st minute, midfielder Niko Petridis broke into the Princeton penalty area and blasted a shot from a tight angle, hitting the side netting inches from the front post.
In the 84th minute, Princeton’s junior keeper Mohamed Abdelhamid, making his college debut, was forced to make his first career save on a headed effort by forward/midfielder Tani Oluwaseyi, who had looked dangerous since coming on as a substitute late in the first half.
Despite an increase in attacks from the Johnnies, Princeton was able to keep working up the field largely on the efforts of senior forward/midfielder Jeremy Colvin and sophomore defender/midfielder Kevin O’Toole. The duo connected in the 67th minute, when Colvin’s open-net shot was blocked by St. John’s defender Luke Hansen, and again in the 75th, when O’Toole was denied by keeper Matuta.
Both teams had good chances in the final minutes of regulation, but neither was able to slot one home. The game continued into two 10-minute, golden goal overtime periods.
The Tigers got off to a roaring start — O’Toole narrowly missed in the first 20 seconds and barely overran a ball into the box only 30 seconds later — and St. John’s was unable to respond.
It took only one minute and 53 seconds for a breakthrough to come. Sophomore defender/midfielder Michael Osei Wusu took a throw-in in the attacking third, aiming for a closely-marked Paniagua, who flicked it on to the feet of Morokhovich. The junior, who had been playing left back but was moved forward to left wing near the end of regulation, worked his way into the box and curled a right-footed effort beyond Matuta and into the net at the back post.
The goal was the well-earned reward of a 19-shot effort by the Tigers, who began the game in control and never truly relented.
Head coach Jim Barlow ’91 says he knows how much frustration can build when everything seems to be clicking but the goals aren’t coming.
“We just want to try to have our guys keep their composure and just stick with it,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Princeton continues conference play at Columbia University this coming Saturday. The Lions (5–3–1, 2–0–0) are currently tied for first in the Ivy League with a record of 5–3–1, though the third-place Tigers have been on a hot streak recently. With the win at St. John’s, they improved to 5–1–1 over their last seven games, a pace which they would certainly like to continue through the final month of the season.