Sparked by O’Toole’s Production Off the Bench, PU Men’s Soccer Ties Dartmouth in Ivy Opener
CLEAR SAILING: Princeton University field hockey player Clara Roth races past a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, sophomore star Roth scored a goal to help No. 5 Princeton defeat 24th-ranked Boston University 3-1. The Tigers, now 8-3 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, plays at Columbia on October 5 and at No. 2 UConn on October 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
After being sidelined due to injury for the first four games this season for the Princeton University men’s soccer team, Kevin O’Toole is looking to make up for lost time.
Last Saturday against visiting Dartmouth in the Ivy League opener for both teams, sophomore midfielder O’Toole came off the bench some 24 minutes into the contest and made his presence felt immediately, assisting on a goal by Sean McGowan and then finding the back of the net himself as the Tigers overcame a 2-0 deficit to make it a 2-2 game at halftime.
“I tried to make the most of my minutes when I came on,” said O’Toole. “I got in and I was going for every ball in the box.”
The disqualification of Dartmouth goalie Harry Stusnick at the 35:20 mark of the first half gave Princeton a lift.
“It definitely changed the complexion of the game,” said O’Toole. “It is one ball over the top and we get a red card and the tide completely turned and we had all of the momentum.”
O’Toole helped turn the tide for the Tigers as his assist came less than four minutes after the red card and he scored in the last minute of the half.
“Cole [Morokhovich] played it across to me and I just tried to head it back into position,” said O’Toole, reflecting on his assist.
“I wasn’t in a position to score and I saw Sean McGowan there and I know he is always going to put the ball on the frame so I tried to get it to him. On my goal, I was a little lucky. It was a great ball from [Bryan] Prudil. I tried to cut my defender off with a touch inside and it deflected back off me and in.”
Despite its one-man advantage, Princeton was not able to put the ball in the goal the rest of the game as the teams played to a 2-2 draw through regulation and 20 minutes of overtime and the Tigers moved to 4-4-1 overall and 0-0-1 Ivy.
“It is frustrating that we didn’t get the win in the second half,” said O’Toole.
“We had our chances and I thought we were the better team after that. In the overtime, Cole hit the post, Gaby [Paniagua] had a good chance, and we had a corner at the end.”
Getting the chance to see some extended playing time was a plus for O’Toole.
“I am starting to work back into fitness; this is the longest game I have played to date,” said O’Toole, who logged 86 minutes in the contest. “The Ivy League games are always the best to play in; the intensity is always there.”
While Princeton didn’t get the win, securing the tie keeps it very much in contention for the league crown.
“We still control our own destiny; we have to get a win against every other team,” said O’Toole. “This one stings a little bit just because of the circumstances.”
In O’Toole’s view, the circumstances Princeton faced Saturday reinforced the mentality that it needs to seize control of games from the outset.
“It is just a good lesson that we have to play a full, complete 90-minute game; we can’t afford to go down two goals,” said O’Toole, who will look to get on the scoresheet again as the Tigers resume Ivy play by hosting Brown on October 6.
“There are definitely a lot of positives, but the biggest takeaway is that we have to play for the first 20 minutes.”