Women’s soccer comes away from weekend play with a scoreless draw against Princeton University

by Jake Philhower | 10/1/18 2:05am

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Led by a career high 10 saves by goalie Mariel Gordon ’21 and a strong defensive effort, the Big Green came away with a scoreless draw against Princeton University and go 5-3-2 overall adn 1-0-1 in league play.

This weekend, women’s soccer traveled to Princeton, New Jersey to take on Princeton University in an important matchup early in the Ivy League conference season. Coming off its first Ivy League win against Brown University this week, the Big Green was looking to improve its position in the league and pick up a big win against the rival Tigers. Though the Big Green was unable to find the back of the net, goalie Mariel Gordon ’21 had a huge game, making a career high nine saves and keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard for the full 110 minutes.

In the first half, Gordon faced 16 shots and was forced to make five saves while the defense blocked several other shots. Dartmouth had a hard time maintaining possession throughout the first half and was unable to get off any shots. Princeton applied relentless pressure to the Big Green defense, but they refused to budge, blocking shot after shot.

“Gordon is the reason we were able to stay in the game the whole 110 minutes,” forward Sally Sandoval ’19 said. “In the first half especially, she put the team on her back, multiple times, coming up with huge saves. Definitely the MVP of that game.”

Going into halftime, the Big Green clearly had to make some adjustments, as the offense had been practically nonexistent for the first half of play. However, even though Princeton came out early with a fast-paced attack that continued to produce chances, the defense again weathered the storm and looked strong into the second half.

“We knew Princeton was going to be a fast, technical team,” Sandoval said. “It was really important to set a defensive tone at the beginning of not backing up and stepping up to their players so they couldn’t turn to goal. Tomi Kennedy and Mimi Asom were players we were focused on maintaining and shutting down throughout the game, and our whole team did a great job of being disciplined and denying chances.”

In the second half, the Big Green did a much better job possessing the ball and even began creating a few scoring chances. Remy Borinsky ’19 had two shots on goal in the 61st and 69th minutes, but both shots sailed wide. Princeton was still able to generate three shots in the second half and apply some pressure to the Big Green defense, but they again could not find the back of the net in regulation as Gordon stood tall in goal. In the 89th minute, midfielder Erin Kawakami ’21 took a shot on goal in one of the best chances that the Big Green had all afternoon, but was unable to get the ball past Princeton’s Natalie Grossi.

Dartmouth played much better in the second half as it looked to capitalize on its increasing momentum on offense as regulation ended. However, the Big Green were on their heels again in the first of two 10-minute sudden death overtime periods. Dartmouth was unable to generate any chances on offense, as Princeton possessed the ball for most of the period. None of Princeton’s four shots were able to connect as Gordon came up with her seventh save to push the game to a second overtime period.

“It was a very nerve-racking game, especially in the final minutes of overtime, but we’ve been in that position before and knew how to collectively handle the pressure,” Gordon said.

In the second half of overtime, Dartmouth was able to apply some pressure to the Princeton defense, earning a corner kick in the 103rd minute, but the Big Green failed to generate any shots on the chance. On the other side of the field, Princeton was able to generate six shots, but the Dartmouth defense stood strong in the box. Gordon made the final two saves of her remarkable game in the final minutes, while the defense was able to block a few more shots. In the 108th minute, the Big Green withstood one last scary moment as Princeton connected on what seemed to be the decisive goal, but the forward was ruled offside and the deadlock remained unbroken. Mariel Gordon finished the game with a career-high nine saves as she willed the Big Green into a scoreless overtime tie against Princeton.

“Overtime was really exciting because both teams were getting their last couple of chances,” Borinsky said. “It was very scary when the goal ended up in the back of our net during overtime, but the goal was called offsides, so it allowed us to continue playing. We kept telling ourselves that we made it this far into the game without conceding a goal and we were going to make certain that didn’t change.”

The Big Green was lucky to escape Princeton with a draw; Princeton dominated possession throughout much of the game and was clearly the better team offensively. The Big Green need to have a much more sustained attack in the coming weeks if it is looking to compete for the Ivy League title.

“I think the biggest thing that our team can improve on moving forward is playing our game no matter who the opponent is,” Chloë Conacher ’19 said. “We started off the Princeton game a little timid, and it definitely impacted how we played throughout the first half. Going into our [Yale University] game, we need to play at the level we know that we’re capable of and defend Burnham with confidence.”

The Big Green are in action on Saturday at home against Yale. Kickoff at Burnham Field is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.