As Bryan Windsor went through practice last week for the Princeton University men’s soccer team, the Boulder, Colo. native’s thoughts were on his hometown and the deadly flooding there.
“There is two feet of water in my house which is tough but as long as my family is safe then I am OK,” said freshman midfielder Windsor.
Last Sunday against visiting Seton Hall, Windsor felt a lot better than OK as he knocked in his first career goal and the lone score as Princeton edged the Pirates 1-0 to earn its first victory of the season.
“It was a good team goal; it was a good buildup,” said Windsor, reflecting on his tally which came with 27:09 left in regulation as he volleyed in a rebound of shot by Nico Hurtado.
“We had a good cross and then Nico had a good shot and I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. It feels great to help contribute to the team and it feels great to get the first win. I am happy just to help out the team however I can.”
Windsor was happy to see the Tigers get on the right track after losing 3-2 at Rutgers on Friday and 3-0 at Fairleigh Dickinson a week earlier.
“We had a game on Friday so our legs were a little bit tired so we just had to get a couple of minutes under our belt,” said Windsor,
“So when we started livening up, we started calming down and playing better soccer. In our past two games, we have gotten scored on three times. At halftime, we talked about really pushing up the level of play.”
The wiry 5’8, 135-pound Windsor is trying to keep from getting pushed around as he makes the jump to college soccer.
“It has been the pace and size,” said Windsor, reflecting on his adjustment to the next level.
“There are some big kids and they are fast too. Physically, it has been tough. But if I play a quicker game with the ball, then I have been able to settle in. Whatever time I get, I love. Whatever position I am, I just love to be on the field.”
Princeton head coach Jim Barlow loved seeing Windsor come through with the game winner against Seton Hall.
“The thing with Windsor is that he is a great soccer player,” asserted Barlow. “He sees things, he makes connections. He has struggled in the first couple of games when the game is going 100 miles per hour to find the ball. We felt today that the pace of the game was a little slower and that he could make a difference in the game and he did.”
In Barlow’s opinion, better defensive play by Princeton made a big difference in the contest.
“Defensively we were so frustrated Friday at the kind of goals we were giving away,” said Barlow.
“We would just shoot ourselves in the foot because we play a good stretch and get a lead and the kind of goals we gave away against Rutgers, we thought were preventable. One was a PK, one was off a punt. Give Rutgers a lot of credit, they took it to us for a good stretch of the game. We needed to really be tighter around the goal and it was nice to see us do that today although the last couple of minutes were a little hairy.”
Things have been hairy for Princeton as the squad has been hit by a rash of injuries in the early going.
“Hopefully this week we will get some more guys back from injury,” said Barlow.
“It has been so many guys. Myles McGinley didn’t play against Rutgers, Pat O’Neil didn’t play against Rutgers. Jack Hilger didn’t play in either game. Brendan McSherry played great against Rutgers but hurt his knee and didn’t play today. Julian Griggs is still a little bit off. Dylan Bowman tore his ACL. It has been a tough week injury-wise for us.”
Senior goalie Seth MacMillan showed toughness in the Seton Hall win, making four saves as he earned his first shutout of the year.
“I thought Seth did a better job today of being ready for plays and being off his line for through balls more and on balls over the top,” said Barlow.
“He cleaned up a lot of those plays. That was a concern of ours in the first two games and he took a step forward today too.”
With Princeton playing at Loyola (4-0-1) on September 18 and Georgetown (4-2) on September 22, the Tigers will need to take more steps forward to hold their own against such competition.
“You got to keep trying to put the pieces together this early in the season,” said Barlow.
“You can’t drop too many games while you are trying to figure it out and we have the added challenge of trying to figure it out with five or six guys injured. We really needed a good result. It is a good thing that we are playing so many good teams early but you don’t want to fall too far behind by dropping so many early games. We have a huge week now with Loyola, who is undefeated, and Georgetown, who was a national finalist last year. Hopefully we will get a little healthier and keep it going.”
Windsor, for his part, believes that the win over Seton Hall will get the Tigers going in the right direction.
“We just needed this one,” said Windsor. “It really lifts our spirits after two losses. I think we can build off this momentum.”