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Defensive stalemate leads to scoreless draw for men’s soccer against Brown

Forward Daniel Ittycheria fights for possession against a defender in Princeton’s 0-0 draw against Brown.
Photo courtesy of @PrincetonMSOC/Twitter. 

Following a tough loss at Cornell (8–3–2 overall, 2–1–2 Ivy League), the Princeton men’s soccer team (4–6–2, 1–2–2) returned home for a divisional bout against Brown (4–4–6, 1–0–4) on Homecoming weekend. After an intense 90 minutes of play, the Tigers and Bears drew, 0–0, in a tough defensive stalemate.

The first half of the game was a physical battle between the two sides’ defenses, as the Tigers and Bears constantly fought for possession of the ball and the opportunity to score. The first shot on goal for either team did not come until after more than ten minutes of play, when Princeton first-year midfielder Liam Beckwith sent a high, crossing pass into the penalty box to sophomore forward Daniel Ittycheria, whose header attempt was caught by Brown goalkeeper Hudson Blatteis. The Tigers continued to push offensively, but attackers struggled to find space to create meaningful possessions and shot attempts. 


“Our game plan was to keep moving the ball from side to side [so that] spaces will open up for us to play between them,” Ittycheria wrote to The Daily Princetonian. “We need to be patient and get more shots on goal.”

Princeton’s patience and ball movement created more and more opportunities as the game progressed. 

Coming out of the second half, the Tigers came about their attacks with renewed energy, epitomized by a steal during the opening kickoff. They followed this with seven shot attempts throughout the next 45 minutes.

“We tried to put more emphasis on being patient with the ball, and I think it paid off … where we were able to string passes together and break down [Brown’s] defense,” stated junior forward Nico Nee in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ 

Despite this, Brown defenders continued to stymie the Orange and Black’s charges, and Brown goalie Blatteis came up with a total of four saves.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers worked hard to handle Brown’s attackers and prevent them from converting shots on goal. Junior goalkeeper William Watson came up with five saves in the game, four of which came in the second half. 


“Defensively, we really wanted to prevent their playmakers on the wings from getting dangerous by cutting inside our own defensive third,” stated Watson in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ “Overall, our outside backs did an excellent job handling them. We ended up keeping a higher line during their possession to prevent them from having space to play in front of us.”

A pivotal moment came in the 77th minute when Brown midfielder Kojo Dadzie broke through Princeton’s defenses and fired a shot from inside the penalty box. Watson saved the goal by extending out his right leg, but the play was not yet over, as Brown’s midfielder Scott Gustafson attempted a rebounding shot that was headed away by senior defender Whit Gamblin.

“It [was] a defensively gritty battle from everyone on the field,” said Watson. “Everyone who stepped on the field yesterday put in a great defensive shift to keep the shutout.” 

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The two sides continued to battle for possession until the final whistle concluded the game 13 minutes later, ending the game in a scoreless draw that left Princeton at No. 7 in the Ivy League with one conference win against Columbia. 

“It’s do or die now,” said Watson. “From here on out, a tie isn’t good enough to reach our goals. We must win the next two games.”

Princeton has just two conference games left on the schedule before the Ivy League Tournament begins on Nov. 10, 2023, which is held between the top four teams in the conference.

“We need to focus on making the tournament,” stated Nee. “We have to keep the intensity super high at practices even as the school year picks back up. We have a real chance if we’re able to do so.”

The Tigers look to get back in the win column in a tilt against Fordham (6–2–6, 3–2–2 Patriot League) on Tuesday before they travel to Cambridge on Saturday to face Harvard (4–3–6, 2–0–2) in another pivotal conference matchup.

Peter Wang is a contributor to the Sports section of the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]