Despite high spirits for the home opener, Monday afternoon saw the 2021 Ivy League men’s soccer champions Princeton (0–1–1) fall 2–0 to Vermont (2–1–1) at Sherrerd Field.
The opening minutes of the game saw little action on both sides of the field. Neither the Tigers nor the Vermont Catamounts had found their rhythm just yet. But the slow pace didn’t last long.
In the eleventh minute, a corner kick for the Catamounts gave them a one-goal advantage. For the fans on the bleachers, only a scramble of orange and green jerseys was visible before the scoreboard changed to 1–0. In the end, what was an attempt to clear the ball by a Princeton defender became a deflection off of another Tiger into the goal.
“With the first goal, it was definitely one hard to watch over on film. It’s not one we like to think about but one we definitely one we learned from,” sophomore goalkeeper Khamari Hadaway told The Daily Princetonian.
“[Vermont] swung a corner into the box ... for safety, one of our guys tried to clear it out, and unfortunately, it bounced off one of our other defenders and went into the back of the net — a fluke of luck, but that’s the game sometimes.”
Efforts to even the score by Princeton proved to be unsuccessful. The Catamounts, meanwhile, were riding a high off of their first goal. In the 23rd minute, Vermont took another corner kick. The kick from midfielder Joe Morrison came flying off the far right post — right to midfielder Yves Borie for a rebound and second goal.
For the remaining first half, the Tigers pounded the Vermont defense with six shots, hoping to close the gap. Vermont goalkeeper Nate Silveira managed to keep the Tigers off of the scoreboard, leading the teams into half-time with a 2–0 Vermont advantage.
“There are a lot of things we wanted to change about the first half, but I think what it boils down to is the fact that we just weren’t as tuned in,” Hadaway said. “We’ve got to learn and keep it moving.”
In the second half, the Tigers returned to the field and stepped up their game to keep the Catamounts on their toes. Despite nine shots towards goal in the second half alone, though, the Tigers were not able to score. The shots were either too wide or cleared by Silveira and the Vermont defense.
Still, it was clear that the Princeton offense had intensified after halftime. While the Catamounts took home the win, the Princeton offense outshot Vermont 16–8 by the end of the game.
The most exciting minutes of the game began 15 minutes into the second half. Within the span of five minutes, the Tigers pounded the goal and pressured the defense. Sophomore forward Harry Roberts led the team with four shots total, two of which were near-goals. In the 65th minute, a shot from Roberts almost halved the deficit. However, Silveira’s fingertips found the ball and tipped it away from the goal.
Princeton will take on Penn State on the road on Friday, Sept. 9 for their next matchup. The last time the teams met, Roberts scored the winning goal — the first goal of his career.
“I think after talking quite a bit today and going over film yesterday, the team’s biggest goal is to make sure we’re locked in from the first minute,” Hadaway said. “It shouldn’t take two goals for us to start playing; it should be from the first minute, and that’s going to be our goal going into Penn State.”
While a loss in the home opener is disappointing, the Tigers are ready to take on the season. For them, they’re keeping their eyes on the prize: another Ivy title.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to reach our max potential as a team,” Hadaway said. “Obviously this is a rough patch ... I think if we just keep our heads up, grind in and out of training, and hold each other accountable, we’ll be set for the season.”
Julia Nguyen is a co-head editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince’ who usually covers the weekend recaps. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Instagram at @jt.nguyen.