It was like deja vu all over again.
In a season where putting goals in the net has been a struggle for Penn men’s soccer, Saturday night’s final home game for the Red and Blue felt all too familiar, as they fell to Princeton, 2-0.
It was an emotional night for the Quakers (3-10-2, 1-4-1 Ivy), who held their annual Senior Night for this year’s class of graduating players. The six seniors and their families were called onto the field before the game to celebrate all of their hard work and achievements over the past four years.
Despite the added motivation of the senior’s last home game, the Red and Blue were unable to come away with a win.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t get the win for the seniors on Senior Night,” coach Rudy Fuller said.
The game, like so many others this year, was a hard-fought effort, but the Quakers came away with nothing to show for it.
Penn was dominated by Princeton (9-5-2, 2-3-1) in the first half, as the majority of play took place in Penn’s half of the pitch. The Red and Blue were outshot 11-3 in the first half and struggled both to generate chances and fight off the persistent attack from Princeton.
“We just didn’t get off to a good start in the game, and I think that falls on me and my staff not getting these guys ready to play, because at the opening whistle they weren’t ready,” Fuller said.
For most of the game, Penn’s back end struggled to contain the Tigers’ attack. Senior keeper Max Polkinhorne put up a solid effort in the loss, keeping the team in the game with seven saves.
Princeton broke the ice in the 23rd minute, taking a 1-0 lead with a strike from Brendan McSherry, who fired a rocket from the top of the box that was just out of reach for the diving Polkinhorne.
Just over three minutes later, the Tigers struck again, with Thomas Sanner beating a defender and putting the ball past Polkinhorne.
The Quakers struggled to win the open field battles, especially in the first half, and let the Tigers get more than one chance at a time.
“We didn’t have the energy we needed, we weren’t sharp,” Fuller said.
The Red and Blue came out in the second half a different team, one that was much more aggressive and focused on the attack.
“I think the guys were really disappointed at the half with the performance overall,” Fuller said. “They didn’t think it lived up to the standards that they set for themselves, and I think they responded.”
Despite this, the Princeton defense continued to stifle the Red and Blue, snuffing out potential scoring chances before they could amount to much. The Quakers only managed to get four shots on goal, most of which were directed right at Princeton goalie Josh Haberman, and eight shots in total.
Although they could not pull out a win, it was still a special night for the seniors.
“We’ve been out on this field for many, many nights, and for this to be the last one with all of the families here it’s definitely emotional,” senior captain James Rushton said. “It’s definitely tough to walk out with the loss, but we just try to look back on the good times and think about those instead."
The Quakers will once again look to dispel their offensive struggles as they look to send their seniors off with a win in their season finale next Saturday against Harvard.
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