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Men’s soccer defeats St. John’s 3–2

A player wearing a white jersey with a number 11 running with people watching.
Ittycheria scored the first two goals for the Tigers on Tuesday evening, his career high.
Courtesy of Princetonmsoc/Instagram

Following back-to-back losses to No. 11 Duke (4–1–1 overall, 1–1 Atlantic Coast Conference) and No. 18 The University of New Hampshire (4–1–1, 0–0 American East), the men’s soccer team (2–2–0, 0–0 Ivy League) needed a rebound. They got it in the form of a thrilling 3–2 comeback victory over the St. John’s Red Storm (4–3–1, 0–1–0 Big East), led by sophomore forward Daniel Ittycheria’s two goals.

The Red Storm took the opening kickoff and seemingly didn’t give up possession for the first seven minutes of play. They applied constant pressure on Princeton’s defensive third, finding multiple scoring chances early. St. John’s took their first corner only 19 seconds into the game, but their first real opportunity came in the sixth minute, when defender Lenny Cidolit headed a cross from forward Macoumba Ba, wide to the left. Ba, though, would not be deterred, as he took a cross from defender Thomas Lamaille straight to the back of the Tigers’ net. Down 1–0 seven minutes in, it looked like it was going to be a long night for Princeton. 

The Tigers’ low spirits didn’t last long, though, as less than one minute after the restart, Princeton struck back. Assisted by junior forward Nico Nee and senior forward Ryan Winkler, Ittycheria found the back of the net in the eighth minute.

“I gotta give credit to Nico and Ryan Winkler on the first goal,” Ittycheria wrote to The Daily Princetonian. “All I had to do was get in the right spot.” 

In their last two games, the Tigers had been unable to respond after giving up a goal, but that trend did not continue against the Red Storm. 

“Our reaction after the first goal was brilliant, you know, equalizing after a minute, and then staying in their half the whole rest of the half was great,” junior goalkeeper Khamari Hadaway told the ‘Prince.’ “Tonight, I think, was a really big character tester.”  

Locked at 1–1, the teams traded shots on goal going into halftime, with neither team truly threatening. However, Princeton began to take command in the second half, with a quick shot on goal from Nee in the 49th minute. In the 52nd minute, sophomore midfielder Sam Vigilante sent a cross over the middle that Ittycheria put away to give Princeton a 2–1 lead and bag his second goal of the contest, a career-high for him at Princeton. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they would let up on the intensity, allowing the Red Storm to pressure their defensive third. After two offside calls temporarily halted the Storm’s advance, forward Max McNulty found midfielder Connor Mucchetti for his first collegiate goal to tie the game at two. 

In a tie game in the 60th minute, the tension was racking up. St. John’s continued to press, allowing the Tigers only one shot in the next 20 minutes. It looked like the game might end in a draw until the Tigers finally got out into space. In the 86th minute, with the final whistle in sight, Nee took a shot on goal. After a save by keeper Ryan Foley, first-year forward Ian Nunez tapped in his first goal of his Princeton career to put the Tigers ahead. Despite the Red Storm’s desperate final shot attempts, the Tigers walked away with a win against St. John’s for the first time since the 2021 season. 

“We told ourselves right, no matter what, play our game, react to the adversity and then you know, the goal will come,” Hadaway said. “And surely enough, with a good shot from Nico and a good follow from Nunez. I think that [play] just capped off a brilliant night of our character being tested.” 

Fresh off the win, the Tigers hope to bring that same character into their first conference game against Dartmouth (2–2–1, 0–0–0 Ivy League) on Saturday. For Ittycheria, this win acts as a springboard for the team as they head into conference play. 

“Thankfully we got the dub and it’s great momentum for Dartmouth,” he said.

Ryan Kirby is a contributor to the Sports section for the ‘Prince.’

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