September 23, 2015

Sparked by Hurtado’s Playmaking Ability, PU Men’s Soccer Edges Boston University

Nico Hurtado sees himself as a facilitator for the Princeton University men’s soccer team.

“I am just trying to be the playmaker, trying to set guys up with my passing and hopefully get some goals later on,” said Hurtado, a 5’11, 160-pound senior midfielder from Key Biscayne, Fla.

“I am really just trying to create plays by finding open spaces in the middle and getting good crosses into the box to our big guys.”

Last Saturday against Boston University, Hurtado filled that role with aplomb, assisting on two goals as the Tigers pulled out a 2-1 victory.

Some 10 minutes into the game, Hurtado sent a ball into the box that senior midfielder and former Peddie standout Brendan McSherry buried in the back of the net to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

“I got it in the middle and I took a guy and then I saw McSherry making a diagonal run and I just played it to him,” recalled Hurtado. “It was a good finish by him.”

Boston University tied the game with a goal midway through the first half and neither team scored until the 87th minute when Hurtado curled a corner kick into the box that Josh Miller flicked home for the winning goal.

“On the corner kicks, we have been having success near the penalty spot,” explained Hurtado.

“In the first half I had found Josh there and he headed it and the goalie saved it; I knew he was going to be open again so I wanted to put it there again and he scored. It was awesome.”

Getting the win was awesome for Princeton, now 2-2, which came into the game mired in a two-game losing streak.

“After losing both games down in Florida, we were kind of down on ourselves,” said Hurtado.

“It was nice being back at home for the first time and to get the win on our home field,” said Hurtado.

“Hopefully this will be the beginning of a streak. We have the Ivy League season coming up soon, which is the most important part of the season.”

While Hurtado and his teammates were thrilled to pull out the victory, they realize that there is plenty of room for improvement.

“We are just trying to get better every day,” said Hurtado. “We definitely need to improve on this game; we are satisfied but not happy.”

Princeton head coach Jim Barlow acknowledged that he was unhappy with some of his team’s play against the Terriers.

“It was a frustrating game for us in a lot of ways because we started so well and had nothing to show for it at halftime,” said Barlow.

“We were really disappointed, to give up a goal and let them back into the game and not get a second goal in the first half. And then in the second half, I just thought we just lacked the sharpness in the attacking half. We failed to create enough really good chances and when we did, we failed to put them away. It wasn’t our sharpest passing day.”

In the end, though, Hurtado’s passing made the difference for the Tigers.

“Nico has hit a lot of good corner kicks this year, I think we have got four goals already this year on corner kicks,” said Barlow of Hurtado, who now has a team-high three assists this season.

“Nico has hit good balls in there with good service. On the first one, he played a
really good ball to Brendan. He has been important for us. I still think that Nico and all of the guys on the attack can get it to another level with their sharpness and their consistency out there.”

The Princeton defense held the fort as the attack misfired. “We grinded it out, the back four (Josh Miller, Mark Romanowski, Patrick Barba, and Greg Seifert) did a really good job,” said Barlow.

“Brian Costa and Vikram Pothuri did a really good job in the midfield so the back and the defensive midfielders put out a lot of fires and did a really good job plugging holes.”

With Princeton playing at Binghamton on September 26 before hosting American on September 29, Barlow is looking for his squad to keep grinding out wins.

“The guys’ ability to find a way to win was good, especially after two tough losses where the games weren’t that different from this game and they could have gone either way,” said Barlow.

“I will give them a lot of credit for that. It is an important win to get because we only have a couple of more to go before we get into the league. We need to start getting results so we are happy about that but there is much room for improvement.”

In Hurtado’s view, the Tigers have the mental toughness to keep getting good results.

“We are definitely playing with a chip on our shoulder after last year when we didn’t get that at-large bid,” said Hurtado.

“We are definitely out to prove ourselves and that we deserve to be in the tournament. We definitely feel like last year we got the short end of the stick so we have been really hungry. We have a lot of seniors; it is their last run so we really want to go out with a bang.”