Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 41
 
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
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MANNING UP: Princeton University men’s soccer player Manny Sardinha looks to pass the ball in recent action. Junior midfielder Sardinha has tallied three goals and one assist this season to help Princeton catch fire. In the wake of its 3-0 win over No. 13 Brown last Saturday, the Tigers improved to 6-3-1 overall and 2-0 in Ivy League play and extended their winning streak to five. Princeton, who is tied with Penn (8-2 overall, 2-0 Ivy) atop the Ivies, plays at Columbia (4-6-1 overall, 0-2 Ivy) on October 16.

Princeton Men’s Soccer Passes Litmus Test; Tops No. 13 Brown to Grab Share of Ivy Lead

Bill Alden

For the Princeton University men’s soccer team, its game last Saturday afternoon against visiting Brown shaped up as a true litmus test.

Brown entered the contest at 7-0-2, having given up just one goal all season in rising to No. 13 in the national rankings.

Moreover, the Bears had owned Princeton in recent years, winning the last four meetings in the series.

As the Tigers prepared last week for the clash, Princeton head coach Jim Barlow liked what he was seeing from his players.

“We had a feeling that the guys were going to be sharp on Saturday,” said Barlow. “Brown is a great program; we knew if we were going to make some noise this year, we would need to win this game.”

After weathering an early Brown storm which included a Sean Rosa header off the post, Princeton proceeded to make quite a statement.

The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead as Lester Nare found the back of the net 15:51 into the game. In the second half, Princeton pulled away from the Bears as Mark Linnville scored his first career goal and Nare added a late tally on the way to a 3-0 triumph.

In reflecting on the win, which lifted Princeton 6-3-1 overall and 2-0 in Ivy League play, Barlow saw it as a superb effort at both ends of the field.

“It was important to do a good job on their key players, Rosa, [Jon] Okafor, and [Austin] Mandel,” said Barlow, whose team extended its winning streak to five with the victory and is now tied for first in the Ivies with Penn (8-2 overall, 2-0 Ivy).

“The guys did a good job. Rosa hit a crossbar and that could have changed things. Sean [Lynch] made a couple of big saves for us. We wanted to be dangerous on the restarts and use the speed we have with Antoine [Hoppenot].”

Sophomore midfielder Nare was Princeton’s most dangerous player on Saturday. “Lester shows heart and hustle,” said Barlow of Nare, who was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week for his performance.

“On the first goal, he made a good run and saw that [Matt] Sanner might head the ball so he got himself in position to score. The second goal was the same; he got himself in position and got great service from [Teddy] Schneider.”

The Tigers got some great two-way play from defenders Linnville and Schneider.

“Instead of retreating after they made a throw-in, Mark found a spot after their clearance and Colby [Hahn] gave him great service,” said Barlow of Linnville’s tally, which was his first career goal.

“Schneider is very consistent. He has a great mind for the game and good feet. He is a link for us, he plays good defense but he knows when to go forward.”

The improved form of junior Josh Walburn has helped Princeton move forward.

“He has added a lot; he seems to be getting fitter and fitter,” said Barlow of Walburn, who missed the first three games of the season due to injury and has tallied four goals and four assists in his seven appearances. “We are fitting him in at a lot of spots. He can play in the midfield and he is also good at slipping balls through to Antoine.”

The Princeton central defense has also been playing well. “Ben Burton has been steady at center back; he is showing composure and leadership,” added Barlow. “Tim Sedwitz had his best game of the year against Brown at holding midfielder.”

In assessing his team’s hot streak, Barlow sees progress tactically and attitude-wise.

“We have improved in every area,” maintained Barlow. “Our defense is better, the passing is better and we have a number of players who are scoring. We are not just relying on Antoine like we were earlier in the season. I think we got some confidence from winning our tournament and took that into the Dartmouth game [a 3-0 win]. We had a 2-0 lead against Seton Hall and we almost lost it but found a way to win. With every win, you get a little more confidence and self belief.”

Princeton will need to draw on that belief as its heads into a tough stretch of the season, which will see the Tigers play five of their last seven games away from the friendly confines of Roberts Stadium.

“Who knows what is going to happen going forward,” said Barlow, whose team was slated to play at Lafayette on October 12 before heading to New York City on October 16 for a game at Columbia (4-6-1 overall, 0-2 Ivy).

“We have had five games at home. Now we have to go on the road and that is much tougher. Lafayette is good; it is a short turnaround from a good game on Saturday. Then we are at Columbia; that is always tough. We’ll see how we respond.”

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