The men’s soccer team (3-6, 1-1 Ivy) took its first conference loss of the season against Princeton (5-5, 2-0 Ivy) Saturday at Stevenson-Pincince Field. In the 30th minute, defender Will Crain ’22 sent a blazing cross through the box that midfielder Kojo Dadzie ’24 headed in for the early Bruno lead. But it was all Tigers in the second half, as Princeton took control and ran away with the 3-1 win.
The first strong scoring chance of the game belonged to Princeton, as Malik Pinto fired a shot toward the top center of Brown’s goal in the 12th minute. Goalkeeper Max Waldau ’22 kept the game scoreless with a leaping save to tip the ball over the net. Other offensive breakaways were few and far between in the early minutes as the Ivy rivals felt each other out.
The Bears took a significant blow in the 21st minute of the game when defender Taha Kina ’24 left the contest due to an injury. Kina limped off the field and did not return for the rest of the game. Midfielder Tanner Barry ’25 earned his first minutes as a Bear as he substituted in for Kina.
Brown was not initially deterred by the injury, going on the attack in the ensuing minutes. Less than a minute after Barry subbed in, forward Alex Mina ’22 launched a strike toward the top right corner of Princeton’s goal that required an excellent save by the Tigers’ goalkeeper. Later, midfielder Kyle Gee ’25 hit a corner into the Princeton penalty box that was batted out but led to a Bears free kick. Crain took the free kick, which was once again knocked back by the Princeton defense, but Crain retook control of the ball, sent a brilliant cross through the entire Princeton defense and found the head of Dadzie who snuck the ball into the right side of Princeton’s goal.
“Throughout the whole season, we’ve been able to capitalize on set pieces,” Crain said. “I just wanted to get (the ball) in the mix to see if we could do anything with it. It came off pretty clean and took a good bounce into the back of the net.”
The score was Dadzie’s first-ever goal in Ivy League play. “The ball just went out wide, came back to Crain’s foot and he hit it pretty hard into the box and it lasered to my head … went off my head and went into the goal,” Dadzie said.
Bruno held off the Tigers for the remainder of the half and entered the locker room with a 1-0 lead against an Ivy League foe for the second straight week.
Princeton quickly shifted the momentum of the game as the second half began. The Tigers earned a corner kick which Kevin O’Toole sent into the box and Lucas Gen knocked into Brown’s goal to tie the game in the 55th minute. Then, in the 63rd minute, Princeton’s David Diaz Bonilla fired a kick off his left boot into the left side of the goal to give the Tigers the lead.
Brown had a chance to tie the game back up as Barry sent a threatening ball into the center of the penalty box, but forward Dennis Pyetsukh ’22 could not control it.
Princeton cemented its victory in the 79th minute when Waldau collided with a Princeton attacker, leaving an empty net for O’Toole to volley the ball into. Princeton continued to threaten for the rest of the game, but the Tigers’ advantage remained 3-1 as the final whistle blew.
Crain stayed positive about the Bears’ effort despite the final score. “All in all, it was a great performance from our team,” he said. “It’s just one or two things that we kind of switch off on, and then (Princeton) capitalizes off it.”
Dadzie agreed. “We played well overall, but it’s just a few moments,” Dadzie said. “We couldn’t really connect passes as well in the final third” of the second half, he added.
The Bears will head on the road to Massachusetts twice in the upcoming week, first to face Northeastern University Tuesday and then to take on conference opponent Harvard Saturday. “The biggest thing is to keep believing in ourselves and keep working hard,” Head Coach Patrick Laughlin said. “We’ve got more opportunities to work to get better … We’ve got a lot of season left.”