Tiger Men's Soccer at 2-1-1 But Needs Attack to Perk Up
By Bill Alden
While the Princeton University men's soccer team has started the season struggling to score goals, it is showing a knack for coming through in a struggle.
Last Sunday, a sluggish Tigers squad fought through fatigue, fouls, and a pesky Towson side as a late goal by freshman Jame Wunsch earned Princeton a 1-0 win at Lourie-Love Field in the final game of this year's Princeton Invitational.
Two days earlier, Princeton showed admirable resolve as it rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit against Loyola on the opening night of the invitational to scratch out a 1-1 draw.
Looking back on the weekend, Tiger head coach Jim Barlow thought the positives outweighed the negatives.
"I think Friday's game was a very good game, both teams put a lot into it," said Barlow, whose club escaped with the tie after a Darren Spicer goal on a feed from Wunsch knotted the game late in the first half.
"We had control in the first half but they scored against the run of play. We bounced right back. In the Towson game both teams were tired from Friday and the game was much slower. It was not easy to put plays together on attack, things would break down near the goal. But we got a win and that's important."
With the Tigers at 2-1-1 having scored just three goals, Barlow is looking for some more scoring punch as his team hosts Hartwick this Saturday.
"We're creating some pretty good opportunities," said Barlow, whose team saw its Ivy League title hopes derailed in 2002 when it scored only four goals in seven league games. "We need more players to be confident to take over the reins around the goal."
One Tiger who isn't suffering from a lack of confidence when it comes to finishing is sophomore forward Spicer, who has two of the Tigers' tallies and has been a clutch player from the day he arrived at Princeton. "Darren is incredibly hard working," said Barlow of the 5'11, 165-pound native of Diamond Bar, Calif. who had two game-winning goals in 2002.
"His feet let him down last year and he worked real hard on that in the offseason. He's been much better in the tight spots so far this season."
With the parity evident in men's college soccer, Barlow knows his club is going to find itself in plenty of tight spots this fall.
"We are in for 17 really close games this season, just about every men's game seems to be decided by one goal," asserted Barlow, who said that others who have stood out individually for his squad include Wunsch, junior goalie Erik White, and the Hare brothers [Jeff and Doug]. "We've been sharp on defense but we've got to get better in the attack."