While the Princeton University men’s soccer team may have won ugly in posting a 2-1 victory over Cornell last Saturday, the triumph left the Tigers in pretty good shape in the Ivy League title race.
The Tigers are now 6-7-1 overall and 3-1-1 Ivy, tied with Penn (6-8-1 overall, 3-1-1 Ivy) for second place and trailing frontrunner Harvard (5-7-2 overall, 4-1 Ivy).
In reflecting on the win, Princeton head coach Jim Barlow acknowledged that his team wasn’t at its sharpest.
“It is funny we didn’t think we were playing that well but we got two goals,” said Barlow.
“We thought we got off to better starts against Dartmouth and Columbia but they got the first goal. That was not one of the best games soccer-wise from beginning to end but we got those two first half goals.”
The Princeton tallies came on good individual efforts by junior star Cameron Peter and senior standout Patrick O’Neil.
“Cameron did a good job on that play,” said Barlow. “Thomas Sanner made a play in the midfield and then Brendan McSherry got it to Myles McGinley and he sent it up the field. Cameron was in a wrestling match with the two center backs and was able to score. O’Neil came in at left back due to an injury to Joe Saitta. We like our backs to come up wide and he scored that goal from left back.”
Barlow didn’t like what he saw in the second half as Cornell put Princeton on its heels.
“We had a good opportunity to get a third but Thomas Sanner hit the post,” lamented Barlow.
“They had a player seriously injured, he got tangled with Chris Benedict and his head hit Benedict’s knee. They thought there might be a neck injury; he was immobilized and taken off by an ambulance. The game was delayed for 25-30 minutes. When it restarted, they threw the kitchen sink at us. They scored on a corner and we had to hold them off.”
In Barlow’s view, the Tigers have a good opportunity to come out on top in the Ivy dogfight.
“I have been saying all along that we have a good team,” said Barlow. “It was good to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Harvard; we had our backs to the wall. We are focused on the league right now. We hope Columbia can beat Harvard so our game with Penn will be for first place. It is wide open with two weeks to go, we think if we play our best we can win the title.”
The Tigers will have to be at their best to pull out a win over the Quakers. “They have one of the best attacks in the league,” asserted Barlow.
“They have four special players in Duke Lacroix, Alec Neumann, Sam Hayward, and Stephen Baker. They are also not conceding many goals. We will have to keep track of those four going up the field. We need to win the midfield, that sets the tempo. It is going to be a really good game.”