The Tigers certainly went down swinging, but unfortunately, a penalty kick effort for the ages was not enough to overcome Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Facing the Wolverines with a chance to advance to play No. 7 Notre Dame, the Ivy League champions fell in penalty kicks on a cold, snowy evening in Ann Arbor. Tied at 1–1 after two overtime periods, the game went to penalty kicks; after 14 rounds of PKs, the potential equalizer was knocked away by the Michigan goalie, as they survived and advanced 11–10 on penalty kicks.
The Tigers and Wolverines played a game that was scrappy from the start. With 38 total fouls in the game, 8 yellow cards, and even a fistfight in the first half, the teams were destined to play a tough, physical contest. Little did anyone know that the offense would come to life in the penalty shootout.
Princeton struck first in the 39th minute, when junior midfielder Benjamin Martin scored off of a beautiful pass from senior forward and midfielder Jeremy Colvin. It was Martin’s first goal of the season, and his first goal since the 2016 season. Princeton controlled possession for much of the first half up to that point, but the Wolverines took over from there and nearly scored multiple times as the half came to an end.
Michigan equalized late in the second half when Noah Kleedtke found the back of the net off the left post. The Wolverines found success all game — especially in the penalty shootout — when aiming for the left post. Tied at one heading into the final minutes, Princeton had a final chance to score after it was awarded a free kick with nine seconds remaining. However, the shot fell right into the goalie’s arms, sending the game into overtime.
Overtime came and went with no highlights, and the teams prepared to play their season out in penalty kicks. After Michigan missed its first shot, the Tigers took the early lead in PKs. Heading into the final of the mandatory five PKs, Princeton needed a score to win, but was turned away by the Michigan goalie. Four straight rounds of successful PKs ensued, including one scored by sophomore goalie Jack Roberts. On Michigan’s 12th penalty kick of the night, its kicker missed the net, giving Princeton a chance to win the game. Yet once again, the Wolverine goalie stood strong and blocked the potential winning shot. The game finally ended after Michigan’s goalie blocked away a shot headed for the left post. The Wolverines stormed the field, while the Tigers’ season came to an end.
Princeton finishes the season 10–5–3 overall and 5–1–1 in the Ivy League. Having advanced to the NCAA Tournament as the Ivy League champion, the Tigers head into the off-season looking to build upon the successes of this season and return to the field next year to defend their Ivy League title.