Facing an Uphill Battle on Opening Weekend, PU Men’s Soccer Goes 0-1-1 on New York Trip
By Bill Alden
Jim Barlow knew that his Princeton University men’s soccer team faced an uphill battle when it opened its season over the weekend by playing at No. 8 Syracuse and Colgate in the Central New York Classic.
“It is so difficult when you are playing teams that have been at it for close to a month already,” said Princeton head coach Barlow, whose team started preseason training on August 17 and had just one scrimmage coming into last weekend while both its foes had two games under their belts.
The Tigers, though, proceeded to give undefeated Syracuse a difficult time last Friday, taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by freshman Frankie DeRosa at the 69:36 mark before conceding a late goal and ended up in a 1-1 draw through two overtimes.
“We did have a really good effort against Syracuse,” said Barlow.“At the end of the day we wound up feeling really disappointed that we didn’t get the win.”
Barlow acknowledged that his squad ran out of gas in overtime. “The big issue for us at the end of the game was the fact that we hadn’t had a 90-minute game against anyone,” said Barlow.
“We just started cramping. Bobby Hickson was cramping so badly, he had to come off at one point. Michael Osei Wusu was cramping so bad, he had to come off at one point. Benji Issroff got elbowed in the head and had to come off at one point. We didn’t really have much depth in the back.”
Two days later, Princeton fell 1-0 to Colgate, lacking some firepower due to a knock picked up in the Syracuse game.
“One of the big pieces that hurt us was Sean McSherry got injured in the Syracuse game and wasn’t able to play against Colgate,” said Barlow
“He is our fastest guy and he is able to stretch teams out and help us get behind teams. Without him, we just didn’t do a good enough job putting plays together in the attacking end and creating enough chances.”
Fatigue was a factor in view of the quick turnaround from the marathon opener.
“We emptied the tank against Syracuse,” said Barlow. “You could just tell that we didn’t have the same ability to get around the field. We were a step slow and late on a bunch of plays.”
Senior midfielder Dan Bowkett was a key offensive playmaker for the Tigers on the weekend, assisting on DeRosa’s goal and looking dangerous against Colgate.
“Dan Bowkett had a very good game against Syracuse,” said Barlow. “I think his legs were a little heavy against Colgate but he did have our best chance. He got behind them on a semi-breakaway with 15 minutes to go and the keeper made a good save. He was solid.”
Goalie Jacob Schachner, who was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week, and defender Issroff keyed a solid defensive effort.
“Jacob had a really good weekend and Benji Issroff was a warrior at center back,” said Barlow, noting that his starters on the back lone and defensive midfield were all freshmen and sophomores with sophomores Schachner and Issroff being joined by classmate Hickson along with freshmen Osei Wusu, DeRosa, and Kevin O’Toole.
“He got elbowed in the head against Syracuse and then he got hit in the eye against Colgate. He had to come off in both games but he went back on so he just battled.”
With Princeton hosting Seton Hall in September 7 in its home opener, Barlow knows that his team needs be sharper on the attacking end to get into the win column.
“I do like our starting group but we still have a lot of question marks up front,” said Barlow.
“I think we were pretty solid defensively. There were moments where the ball moved really well but figuring out the last piece is still a big challenge for us.”