PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men's soccer team dropped a heartbreaker to Princeton Saturday night, 2-1, in the final home game of the season for the Quakers. Despite leading 1-0 with 10 minutes left, the Tigers were able to stage a comeback by hitting two goals in five minutes.
Princeton (5-7-3, 2-2-1 Ivy) won their second League match of the season while Penn (9-5-1, 2-2-1 Ivy) fell for the second-straight League game.
Prior tothe game, Penn's five seniors - Jon Abelson, Richard Brushett, Andrew Fenwick, John Rhodes, and Erik Violante - were honored as they would play their final regular-season game at Rhodes Field.
Both teams set a brutally fast pace and kept it up throughout the game. Neither side was able to connect on seven shots apiece in the first half, but it would be Penn that struck first in the 68th minute after the Quakers shuffled their front line to try and create a mismatch with the defense. Freshman Alex Grendi swung a ball in from the right flank to classmate Omid Shokoufandeh, who slotted it in the box to a wide-openMike Klein for the score.
"Having guys switch spots throws off the defense," said Head Coach Rudy Fuller. "As the guys switch, they have to figure out a new player and it doesn't throw off our rhythm."
The Tigers showed renewed life late in the game, and in the 81st minute, Ben Young bombed a long-ranger from the right side to equalize. Princeton then stunned the capacity crowd when it took the lead just five minutes later on a Darren Spicer shot from five yards out.
Princeton held a slight 14-13 edge in shots while Penn had a 5-4 advantage on corners. Junior goalkeeper Dan Cepero made three saves while counterpart Bobby Guelich stopped five. The physical and fast-paced contest saw 33 fouls, 10 offsidesand five cards.
The loss was an unfitting ending for the team's five seniors that contributed to the team's first Ivy League title in 22 years when they won it in 2002.
"This group of five guys deserves a lot of credit. This program right now is a lot different than when they entered," said Fuller. "They've accomplished a heck of a lot in four years."
Penn wraps up the regular season next Saturday at Harvard.
Written by Tim Flynn, athletic communications assistant