Hopes of closing out the regular season with a home win and shaking up the Ivy League standings fell short as the Princeton men’s soccer team (6–6–4 overall, 1–3–3 Ivy League) lost to Penn (12–2–2, 6–1) on Saturday, Nov. 12, 3–0.
Prior to kickoff, the six seniors of the team, including defender Ben Bograd, forward Daniel Diaz Bonilla, midfielder Mateo Godoy, forward Thomas Huleatt, midfielder Ryan Clare, and defender Lucas Gen, were celebrated for their many accomplishments during their time at Princeton. In fact, all six were major contributors to winning the 2021 Ivy League championship, and they hold numerous league and region honors.
Early in the match, the Tigers held the ball in the opposition’s half and generated quality looks within the box off of corner kicks. However, a costly foul given up by the Princeton defense in the box awarded Penn with a penalty, giving them an early 1–0 lead. Even with this blow, Princeton continued to apply pressure, but a quick counterattack by Penn with eight minutes remaining in the first half led to another goal.
In the second half, the Tigers continued to battle, but a 64th-minute goal by Penn severely hurt their chances at a comeback, and the game concluded with a final score of 0–3 for Princeton. Throughout the game, sophomore goalkeeper William Watson made some stellar saves to keep Princeton in it, but the 4–1 advantage for shots on goal held by the Quakers proved to be the difference.
“It was an up and down year. We had some really strong games where we really played up to our potential as a group but consistency was an issue, especially during Ivy League play,“ Bograd wrote to the ‘Prince,’ when asked to reflect on the season. “While it was not our best season with respect to results, it was a really special group of guys who brought an amazing attitude to training every day.”
“This group more than any other had guys who just loved to play,” he added. “People came early and stayed late all the time because they just liked being on the field and messing around with a ball together. That made it a really fun group to be around day in and day out.”
While it wasn’t the season that the team had envisioned after their Ivy League championship win last year, the Tigers have a lot to be proud of after another hard-fought season. Bograd noted that road wins at Penn State and Virginia Tech were his favorite moments of the season.
“Over the course of my time here, winning the league at Yale my freshman year and at Penn my junior year were both experiences I will never forget,” he continued. “Also I remember starting the first game of the season my freshman year and how excited I was to be part of this team. It’s crazy to think how far I and the program have come since then.”
Even though the season has come to an end, Princeton has next year’s season to look forward to. As he moves on to graduate this spring, Bograd gave his parting advice to the team.
“Focus on enjoying each day. Over the course of five years of playing and balancing soccer with academics and the rest of life at Princeton it sometimes felt difficult to not view soccer as a job or a source of stress,“ he said. “I think that success comes to the teams and players who are having the most fun.”
Eric Lee is a senior writer for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.