MEN’S SOCCER: Elis blow lead over Princeton

In the final game of the season, the Bulldogs took a two-goal lead early in the first half but could not prevent Princeton from coming back to win 3–2 on the Tigers’ home turf.

On Saturday, the Bulldogs (4–11–2, 2–3–2 Ivy) surrendered a 2–0 lead for the third time this season, and the Tigers (7–9–1, 4–2–1) rode Ivy League top goal scorer Cameron Porter’s two goals to victory.

“We had a great start to the game, and I think it was because everyone was so pumped to finish out the season on a high note,” forward Keith Bond ’16 said. “Unfortunately, Princeton did a good job not panicking and was able to withstand our pressure and settle down and adjust.”

Despite starting the Ancient Eight campaign 2–0 and sitting in first place, the Elis won just one of their last seven games and saw their hopes for their first Ivy title since 2005 fade away.

The game started brightly when forward Peter Jacobson ’14 scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season just 1:22 into the game. Jacobson met forward Cameron Kirdzik’s ’14 cross and put the ball in the back of the net with a header for the early lead. Just eight minutes later, the Bulldogs upped the tally to 2–0 when forward Cameron Kirdzik ’17 found forward Scott Armburst ’14 on the counterattack. The senior met Kirdzik’s long ball and scored Yale’s second goal with fewer than 10 minutes gone in the half.

The senior classmates were able to tally goals in their final game for Yale and put the Bulldogs in prime position for an important win. The Tigers refused to roll over, however.

“We knew coming in that Princeton was a dangerous team,” defender Nick Alers ’14 said. “Even two goals up, we knew that the game was definitely not over given how much time was left.”

Princeton got back into the game with a goal in the 34th minute. Midfielder Andrew Mills played a long ball that fell to Porter on the right edge of Yale’s box. The forward hammered a side volley across goalkeeper Blake Brown ’15 that nestled in the far left corner to halve Yale’s lead to 2–1. The half ended with Yale holding a 6–3 advantage in shots, but still up just one.

The Tigers, the fourth-highest scoring team in the Ivy League, did not take long to tie the game. Just three minutes after the beginning of the second half, Mills slipped a through ball behind the Yale defense and midfielder Brendan McSherry hit a hard shot low and under Brown’s reach to even the scoring at two apiece.

Princeton rode its momentum and scored what would eventually be the game winner in the 63rd minute. Mills cleared the ball all the way downfield after a spell of Yale pressure. After some poor defending and miscommunication between Brown and his defenders, the ball took an awkward bounce and Porter was able to latch onto the ball, hitting a looping header over Brown and into the unguarded net for a 3–2 lead.

Yale was able to put some late pressure on the Tigers, forcing goalkeeper Seth MacMillan into a save in the 86th minute, but the Bulldogs couldn’t find the tying score.

“It’s upsetting to lose any game, but this one definitely hurt a lot more just because it was the last game for our seniors and they’re such a great group of guys,” Bond said.

The loss pushed the Elis down to fifth in the Ivy League. Yale has finished worse than fifth in three of the last four years.

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