For the second time in all of program history, the men’s soccer team has gone undefeated in the Ivy League. Despite the wet bleachers and cold temperatures of the Tigers’ home finale, Sherrerd Field was packed with Princeton students and families as they watched the team secure a 1–0 overtime victory over the Yale Bulldogs.
Following some controversial calls and a lot of physical aggression, junior midfielder Mateo Godoy scored the golden goal of the game six minutes into OT.
At the start of the first quarter, neither side seemed to be able to find an offensive rhythm with ball possession switching back and forth between the Bulldogs and the Tigers. At the nine-minute mark, senior defender and midfielder Michael Osei Wusu finally found an opportunity to score, but his shot hit the crossbar.
As the game progressed, tension began to build on the field. With Yale’s physical aggression and a lack of calls on the referees’ end, the Tigers grew frustrated. With about 21 minutes left on the clock, junior forward Daniel Diaz Bonilla passed the ball to senior midfielder and forward Kevin O’Toole for a shot. Just as O’Toole stepped to kick, one of Yale’s defensive players slammed him to the ground, and fans erupted in loud protest. There was no foul or card on Yale.
“You know, it was definitely frustrating, but at the end of the day, the game doesn’t depend on the ref,” O’Toole said. “We tried to put the game on our terms and dictate the game that way. As frustrated as we were with some of the calls, we had a resolve in the game that it wasn’t going to matter, that we were still going to win anyway.”
These physical encounters continued into the second half of the game. Two minutes into the third quarter, Yale midfielder Kai Moos received a yellow card for body checking Princeton first-year defender Issa Mudashiru.
“We knew it was going to be a little bit of a chippy game; we’ve had a long history [with Yale],” senior defender Alex Charles added. “I think our job was to just focus on us and kind of keep our composure. You know, our guys on the bench were encouraging our guys on the field, and they did a really good job just focusing on what matters.”
With 16:13 left in the regular period, controversial calls began in the midfield when ball possession was given to Yale instead of Princeton. The Bulldogs brought the ball down the left corner of their offense and centered the ball in front of the net. One of Yale’s offensive players met the ball with his chest, using his body to deflect the ball into the net and past senior goalie Jack Roberts.
Yale was quick to celebrate, but commotion erupted on and off the field in objection to the apparent goal. The referees were called to discuss the play, and ultimately, the call was reversed for a handball, in Princeton’s favor.
“There was a handball in the middle of the field that the center ref didn’t see, and he played it on,” O’Toole explained. “The fourth official saw it and called the [center] ref over and told them it was a handball, so they reversed it for that reason.”
The remainder of the second half was scoreless, bringing the two teams into OT. Yale midfielder Quanah Brayboy was first to attempt a goal seven seconds in, but the shot went high over the top of the goal.
At 6:48, Bonilla received the ball from Princeton’s midfield. Unable to take a shot with defensive pressure from Yale, Bonilla passed the ball to junior defender and midfielder Ryan Clare who was open on the far right sideline. Clare quickly sent the ball into the box past Yale’s center defense towards the left post. Godoy found position at the perfect time, sliding to meet Clare's ball and deflecting it into the goal to secure the victory for the Tigers.
The win marks head coach Jim Barlow ’91’s 200th in his career at Princeton. Since he joined the coaching staff in 1996, Barlow has led the Tigers to eight Ivy League championship titles and two undefeated seasons within the Ivy League, including this year’s 7–0 record.
In honor of Senior Day, The Daily Princetonian asked the senior captains for their fondest team memory. All three shared similar sentiments, pointing to last week’s title-clinching game.
“My favorite team memory was honestly probably getting the goal at Penn to close it out this year. Everyone has worked so hard and to have it hanging in the balance and to get it that late in the game is crazy … I won’t forget it,” Roberts said.
“The goal this year for the senior class was to win. You know, we lost one season, so, you know, we wanted to go two out of three [championships]. We were able to accomplish that with a great team,” Charles commented.
“The Penn game to win the league was a highlight last weekend, but going 7–0 is really special. We are only the second Princeton team to ever do it and first since 2010, so it’s really cool to be part of history in that way,” O’Toole added.
The Tigers will be continuing onto the postseason, soon to compete in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Their first opponent will be revealed on Monday, Nov. 15 in the selection show.
Julia Nguyen is a staff writer for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on instagram at @jt.nguyen.