September 12, 2018

Despite Controlling Play with 19-5 Edge in Shots, Princeton Men’s Soccer Falls 1-0 to Monmouth

TIGHT BATTLE: Princeton University men’s soccer player Sean McSherry, left, goes after the ball last Saturday as Princeton hosted Monmouth. McSherry and Tigers dropped a heartbreaker to the Hawks, falling 1-0 despite building a 19-5 edge in shots. Princeton, now 1-3, hosts Temple on September 12 and Boston University on September 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jim Barlow has seen a lot in his 23 seasons guiding the Princeton University men’s soccer program.

But he never experienced anything quite like Princeton’s heartbreaking 1-0 loss to visiting Monmouth University last Saturday evening.

“I don’t remember us ever outplaying a team as badly and losing as we did tonight,” said Princeton head coach Jim Barlow, noting that his team built a 19-5 edge in shots and 10-1 in corner kicks. “They had one shot on goal.”

Princeton outshot the Hawks 11-4 in the first half with a 4-0 edge in shots on goal as senior Sean McSherry sprinted to goal on several dangerous runs and sophomore Gaby Paniagua just missed on a couple of scoring opportunities.

Despite that dominance, the local rivals were deadlocked in a 0-0 stalemate and Barlow knew that squandering the opportunities could come back to haunt his team.

“You are always concerned when you don’t score in our game; it just takes one,” said Barlow.

“The more that you start pressing the more you are opening yourselves up but I never got the feeling that we were opening ourselves up to counters. We weren’t giving away anything.”   

The Tigers kept pressing forward after intermission, outshooting Monmouth 8-1 in the second half but it was the Hawks who found the back of the net, tallying on a header with 6:44 left in regulation.

“We just couldn’t get our finishing on target; we couldn’t get the last pass quite right,” lamented Barlow, whose team dropped to 1-3 with the defeat. “The guys involved in the play that led to the goal didn’t do well.”

In addition to being snakebitten around the net, Princeton couldn’t get a break from the officials.

“A couple of calls didn’t go our way,” said Barlow. “He called a penalty kick for us in the first half and then changed his mind. He called back a goal we scored and said it was a dangerous play.”

In controlling the ball, Princeton got some really good play from McSherry, Paniagua, freshman Moulay Hamza Kanzi Beighiti, and junior Bobby Hickson.

“Sean was really good; he should have had a couple of goals,” said Barlow. “Gaby had some good moments. Moulay had some good moments. The guys in the back won pretty much everything; Bobby did a good job coming forward.”

In the final analysis, Princeton did everything but win. “They are hungry; I know they want it,” said Barlow. “Maybe we are pressing a little too hard. There is not much to say other than that we created more chances than we have in a long time. We had control of the game pretty much from start to finish and just wound up not getting it done.”

Despite the bitterly disappointing outcome, Barlow believes his squad still has a chance to enjoy a big season.

“They need to take from this that we can do some really good things,” said Barlow, whose team hosts Temple on September 12 and Boston University on September 15. “I think they know that already.”