The men's soccer team took the Ivy League lead after defeating the Columbia Lions 2–1 in New York on Saturday, improving the Tigers' league record to an undefeated 2–0–1.
The Tigers went into halftime leading 2–0 after a goal each from senior defender Sean McSherry and senior forward Jeremy Colvin. McSherry scored in the 16th minute, beating one defender and then bodying another before sending the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. Later, acting on Princeton’s strategy to high press, Colvin pressured Columbia goalie Dylan Castanheira into a hasty clear. He then deflected the ball into the goal to put the Tigers up 2–0 in the 29th minute.
“Our tactical strategy was to press high up the field and force them into uncomfortable situations where we could pounce on their back line, and that's exactly what we did. Having a 2–0 lead in the first half was incredibly satisfying because that doesn't happen very often in Ivy League soccer, but at the same time, we knew the game was far from over,” said McSherry.
In the second half, Columbia adjusted its lineup to allow for a more direct style of play and take advantage of its athleticism. Columbia’s sole goal came from midfielder Andrew Stevens finishing midfielder Danny Laranetto’s cross in the 62nd minute. Both teams created chances to score throughout the half and despite a last-second Lions shot that grazed the right goalpost, Princeton held Columbia to one goal and secured the game.
“The challenges were different, and we had to battle for balls in the air, second balls, and still continue to push forward to try to get the third goal. When Columbia made it 2–1 and started to throw everything forward, our backline held together, [junior goalie] Jacob Schachner made some key saves, and we did get a little bit of luck at the end when they hit the post,” said men’s soccer head coach Jim Barlow ’91.
The Tigers were impeded by injuries and illnesses prior to the game, but a deep roster allowed the team to succeed despite the setbacks.
“It's tough seeing our best players hurt, but it’s also satisfying to know that there are 12 other guys on the bench all ready to go,” said McSherry.
Princeton plays next against the Drexel Dragons (8–4–2 overall) in Philadelphia on Tuesday. The Dragons are coming off a 1–0 victory against Northeastern. Drexel’s lead scorer Mathias Ebbesen scored seven goals, three of them game-winners, over the past 14 games and averaged three shots per game.
The Tigers anticipate a tough non-conference finale but are looking to carry forward the momentum.
“Drexel has had a strong season and they have some very dangerous and skillful attacking players and a tough defense. Hopefully we can continue to build on our recent good form, play with a lot of energy, and be sharp with our passing,” said Barlow.
After the Drexel matchup, Princeton will close out its season with four straight Ivy League games. With seven points, Princeton leads both Columbia and Cornell by one point for the right to sit atop the Ivy rankings.