Displaying Skill, Ability to Grind Out Victories, PU Women’s Soccer Posts 2-0 Opening Weekend
OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton University women’s soccer player Mimi Asom, left, battles a foe in a game last season. Last weekend, senior forward Asom tallied two game-winning goals as 14th-ranked Princeton started the season by going to New England and beating University of New Hampshire 2-0 last Friday and edging Boston University 1-0 two days later. The Tigers host St. Joseph’s (3-0-1) on August 31 in its home opener and then welcome No. 16 N.C. State (3-0-1) two days later. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
It was just the first weekend of the season, but the Princeton University women’s soccer team proved it can win in different ways.
In its season opener at the University of New Hampshire last Friday, the 14th-ranked Tigers outshot the Wildcats 21-2 on the way to a 2-0 win. Two days later at Boston University, Princeton had to hold the fort as it was outshot 12-7 but was able to pull out a 1-0 victory.
“It was a tale of two games; the New Hampshire game was a game where we had a lot of possession,” said Princeton head coach Sean Driscoll.
“We had a lot of the ball and we had a lot of energy to come back and win it because were able to relax in possession versus Sunday where we didn’t have a lot of the ball and it was a very helter-skelter game. Our defense was tested much more yesterday. It was good for me to see.”
The team’s revamped defense was a constant as the Tigers accomplished the feat of posing two shutouts on the road.
“In general on the back line, we tried a lot of new faces from the end of last year to the beginning of this year,” said Driscoll. “That was the first look at the next installment of our back line; they did a good job.”
Senior star forward Mimi Asom did a great job, tallying the game-winning goal in both contests.
“Mimi is wearing an armband, she is one of the captains, and when she is on the field she is playing like that,” said Driscoll.
“She has been very, very good. She has been getting other players involved. She is moving the ball well, she has attacked well. She has been a weapon.”
Princeton unveiled a new weapon last weekend in freshman forward Gabi Juarez, who tallied a second-half goal in the win over New Hampshire.
“Gabi is very strong physically; she is an aggressive player who has not been fazed at all by the game,” said Driscoll of Juarez, who played for Mexico this summer in the U20 Women’s World Cup.
“A lot of times, as a freshman you are a little bit wide-eyed; all of our freshmen have been very good in terms of getting ready for college soccer and playing at a high level. Gabi scored a great goal off her head; she can do a lot of different things. It gave her confidence.”
Junior goalie Natalie Grossi displayed the confidence that comes with being a two-year starter, making seven saves in the win over BU.
“Natalie had an unbelievable game on Sunday,” said Driscoll. “They really pounded us in the first 20 minutes; she was very calm and very relaxed. She commanded the back line and was able to make some really important plays in terms of getting balls off crosses and balls off corners.”
Although Princeton didn’t produce a commanding performance in edging the Terriers, Driscoll liked what the effort said about his squad’s character.
“That was a game that showed a different side to our team, which is something I needed to see,” said Driscoll. “I wanted to see if we could grind out wins. Good teams can find a way to do that, and we did. To our credit, we won ugly.”
In opening the home portion of its schedule this weekend, Princeton is facing two good teams as it hosts St. Joseph’s (3-0-1) on Friday and No. 16 N.C. State (3-0-1) two days later.
“The idea is to play under the lights for two games on our own field, with good energy about it,” said Driscoll.
“I am looking forward to seeing that; I think we are going to be really tested. I think at 3-0-1, they are very fair records. N.C. State had an unbelievable result, beating South Carolina; they were in the Final 4 last year. N.C. State is very, very good and St Joe’s is very good.”
In order to get good results against such formidable foes, Princeton is going to have to raise the level of its play.
“We have a lot to work on this week in terms of our attacking and our movement,” said Driscoll.
“I am trying to integrate so many new people. Right now we are trying to figure out what is the best system, the best formation, and the best lineup. We have a lot of talent, but we can play better.”
Driscoll is confident the that the Tigers will get the most out of that talent as the season unfolds.
“In general, the energy of the team is very positive; the seniors have done a very good job of making it a very good atmosphere for the players on the team,” said Driscoll.
“I love the depth of our group and I am looking forward to seeing what we can do along the way.”