Coming off of momentous one-goal wins over Dartmouth and Drexel in the last week, the men’s soccer team will look to build on its momentum Saturday night when the Tigers hit the road for their second Ivy League match, this time against Brown.
A win against Brown would send the trajectory of this season in an eerily similar direction to that of the 2010 men’s soccer team. It was three years ago that wins over Dartmouth and Brown turned around an unsteady September for the soccer team. Coincidentally, these initial victories were the spark that led to the Tigers’ most recent Ivy League title. But the Tigers are not thinking that far ahead and are far more concerned about the quality of their play on Saturday, especially in getting a strong start to the match.
“We need a full game performance,” junior forward Cameron Porter said. “We’ve been putting in a mediocre half just to stay in the game. But we don’t come out and dominate.”
“We have to start out well against Brown,” sophomore forward Nico Hurtado added. “The only game we thought we came out hard from the start was against Dartmouth. This is Brown’s league opener at home, and they’re known for pressing teams in the first 20 minutes of the game.”
Despite its 3-5-2 record, Brown possesses a strong lineup that took Princeton to a 2-2 draw in double overtime last season at Roberts Stadium. In addition, the Bears have performed noticeably better in front of their notoriously raucous crowd in Providence, R.I. While the team is 0-4-2 on the road, Brown is 3-1 at home. Known as one of the stronger teams in the Ivy League, Brown presents a threat that the Tigers know cannot be ignored.
“The biggest mistake we can make is getting overconfident right now and getting too much from the Dartmouth win,” Porter said. “Brown may be on a bit of a losing streak right now, but we shouldn’t look into it too much. They may have graduated a lot of seniors on defense, but they’re still really strong.”
“We can’t give up the first goal,” Hurtado said. “Ivy League games are so tight that if you give up the first goal, it’s very hard to come back. Teams will close in with a narrow lead and play defensively. We’re a small team, too, and if Brown closes in we’ll have to cross the ball in, which isn’t an advantage for us.”
While the Tigers know what mistakes to avoid, they also have a number of strategies that they need to continue from their past few games.
“When we got control of the ball against Dartmouth and Drexel, we were able to hold it well on their attack and half,” Porter said. “Our backs could recover, and we didn’t have too many attacks on goal. Besides the two shots Dartmouth took last Saturday, [senior goalkeeper] Seth [MacMillan] was basically standing around most of the game.”
“We need to continue with our quick transition from defense to offense and vice versa,” Hurtado said. “And we have to keep possessing the ball in their half and not just in our half.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday night in Providence, R.I.