Men’s soccer cruises against UMass Lowell
In a dominating home effort in front of a raucous Burnham Field crowd, the men’s soccer team put up four goals to none against the University of Massachusetts at Lowell on Friday. After a slow start, the Big Green (2-2-0, 0-0-0 Ivy) exploded in the second half for three goals, including two in just 1:10 to seal the victory.
The game started quickly for the Big Green, as Colin Heffron ’15 got the home team on the board in the 13th minute off a corner kick from Gabe Stauber ’15. Stauber swung the ball into the box and found Heffron, who buried it after a few bounces in front of the cage.
The team rushed to its student section, which was particularly loud despite the home opener’s near-freezing temperatures.
“The crowd is huge,” co-captain Hugh Danilack ’15 said. “They really give us that extra energy. We say we don’t lose on Burnham and, for this year, that’s key for winning the Ivy title and making the tournament.”
The Big Green could not convert on a few more goals in the first half against the River Hawks (2-6-0). Alex Adelabu ’15 was stopped on a breakaway and a couple of close offside calls negated at least one Dartmouth goal.
Head coach Chad Riley said that the offside trap at the collegiate level is “rare” and “surprising” to see, but he said he was proud of his team for handling the opponent’s strategy in a professional manner.
“The guys just figured it out, and that’s what you want to build,” he said.
Danilack credited the team’s attitude and composure in helping them not to get discouraged.
“It was really just patience and composure,” he said. “We knew we would break them down. We were the fitter and better team, so it was only a matter of time.”
Neither team could find the net for the rest of the first half, and the horn sounded at 1-0 Dartmouth after 45 minutes.
“No disrespect to them, but we felt we were the better team,” Adelabu said. “We knew that once we got that second goal, we would put it away.”
The River Hawks came out pressing to begin the second half, notching two quality chances in the first 20 minutes that both sailed just over the bar.
Despite a few good chances of its own in the beginning of the second half, the Big Green could not find the back of the net until the middle of the 68th minute, when Danilack ripped a shot from just outside the 6-yard box that Adelabu deflected up into the top of the net.
The team and the crowd became more energized after the second breakthrough.
“That’s the lesson,” Riley said. “That second goal is so important.”
Just over a minute later, Adelabu returned the favor, finding Danilack in the box for the Big Green’s third goal of the night. Goalie Stefan Cleveland ’16 got the play started with a booming free kick from the defensive half that was flicked on by Robin Alnas ’15 to Adelabu, who chipped it past the River Hawk defender into the box. The senior striker saw Danilack streaking down the left side of the box and fed him the ball, which Danilack redirected into the back of the net for a 3-0 advantage.
Riley then emptied the bench, giving the reserves some time. But the Big Green continued to dominate.
In the 83rd minute, the younger Danilack got in on the action as Matt Danilack ’18 tallied his first collegiate goal on a breakaway in the 83rd minute. The freshman intercepted a clear and moved the ball. After a quick one-two pass on the top of the box, Matt Danilack got the ball back with no one between himself and keeper Austin Kroll. The freshman stayed composed and buried the ball for a 4-0 advantage.
In this win, the Big Green ripped 16 shots and scored more than it had all season to this point.
“It’s potentially a really good confidence booster,” Adelabu said. “We should have scored more in Indiana, but we were unlucky and hit two posts. We knew it was coming and we needed this night.”
The team still has two weeks until its Ivy opener at Princeton University and is looking to build on this victory going into the rest of the season.
“It’s all about growth going towards Ivies,” Riley said. “We just approach it one game at a time, as the cliché goes, and then analyze them after the fact.”
Because there is no Ivy League postseason tournament, Riley noted that every game is critical en route to an NCAA Tournament.
“It’s really a seven game tournament,” he said. “It’s one of the most exciting and excruciating things about the Ivy League.”
The team returns to action with a midweek game in Worcester, Massachusetts, against the College of the Holy Cross on Tuesday. It returns home to face Fordham University on Saturday.