Men's Soccer Fights to Draw at Princeton in Whirlwind Match

Penn-Princeton Box Score (PDF)

PRINCETON, N.J. - In a match that saw the University of Pennsylvania men's soccer fight back from a goal deficit not once, but twice, the Quakers ultimately battled to 2-2 draw at Roberts Stadium against Princeton on Saturday. Senior captains Matt Poplawski and Alec Neumann netted the goals for the Red and Blue.

With the result, Penn (5-5-6, 3-2-1 Ivy League) has set a new program record with six draws on the season, currently tied for most in the NCAA. 

How it Happened
Juiced on the high of Senior Night, the Tigers came out as the early aggressors, netting the game's first goal within five minutes of the opening whistle. After the Quakers fouled Princeton just feet outside of the penalty box, the home team took advantage and found Henry Martin off the set play for the 1-0 lead. 

Penn would remain undeterred however, as Joe Swenson set things up for Penn on a corner kick in the 14th minute. The junior placed a ball in the perfect spot in front of the goal, finding the head of Poplawski who sent it past the Princeton goalkeeper and into the back of the net, equalizing the game 1-1. 

With the game knotted early and both teams riding the confidence of having already seen success on the offensive end, play picked up to a torrent pace. Penn and Princeton traded shots on both sides, and physical play mounted in the midfield. A shot on goal from Gavin Barger went down as the final offensive threat of the period for the Red and Blue, who went into halftime tied 1-1.

The Tigers forced sophomore goalkeeper Etan Mabourakh to make a save early in the second half, as Princeton continued to force the issue within the opening minutes. Just one minute after Princeton's Sean McSherry was whistled for a yellow card, the Tiger found a perfect pass from Greg Seifert and hammered home the goal, giving the home team a 2-1 advantage.

It wouldn't take long for Penn to respond yet again, as the teams traded yellow cards shortly after Princeton's second goal before junior captain Sam Wancowicz found himself with a clear path to the goal. Wancowicz used his left foot to knock in a shot that the Tiger goalkeeper was unable to corral, bouncing off his glove and onto the foot of Neumann who hammered home the score, drawing the Quakers even at 2-2 in the 67th minute. 

Drama continued to rise as both teams went full throttle, as Penn held its ground on several defensive stands immediately after the Quaker goal. In the 77th minute, the Red and Blue thought they grabbed a 3-2 advantage on a goal from Swenson but after further review from the officials following the shot, the head referee deemed play offsides, nullifying the score. 

Just minutes later Penn again found the back of the net, but just like last time, the Quakers were whistled for an offsides penalty. The Red and Blue controlled momentum in the later stages, notching shot after shot that had the Princeton crowd holding its breath before the clock hit zero in regulation. 

Penn's best chance in the first overtime period game in the waning seconds of play, as freshman Dami Omitaomu, who had been lingering around the top of the offense the entire contest and threatening the Tiger defense, found himself in front of the goal on a ball from Neumann. Omitaomu was able to get a foot on the ball but the Princeton goalie just barely held on for a monumental save. 

As they did all night long, both teams ratcheted up the pressure in the final 10 minutes of play, as Poplawski featured perhaps the best defensive play of the night for the Quakers, heading out a ball headed towards the back of the net on the goal line. Penn was able to generate a handful of shots in the final minutes, forcing a team save from Princeton, but neither team was able to break the stalemate and walk away with a win. 

Inside the Numbers
With his score in the 67th minute, Neumann recorded his ninth goal of the year, second-most in the Ivy League. Nine goals in one season is a career-high for Neumann, who previously netted eight his sophomore year. The senior owns 20 points on the year.

Poplawski's score was his fourth of the year, solidifying himself in third place on the team with nine points on the year. 

Mabourakh collected four saves on the night, and played a vital role in holding the Tigers scoreless in extra time with strong plays on any ball into the box. 

Princeton held the shot advantage on the night 18-10 and had seven corner kicks to Penn's four. The Quakers featured six shots on goal. 

Swenson added to his team lead, now owning four assists on the season. Wancowicz's deflected shot that led to Penn's second goal was his third of the year. 

Saturday's contest marks the 10th time Penn has battled into overtime this year. 

What's Next?
In direct result of Harvard canceling the remainder of its men's soccer season, Penn will battle Columbia for the second time this year so as both teams end with seven league contests. The Quakers and the Lions will kickoff Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 at Roberts Stadium on the campus of Princeton. 

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