Men’s soccer meets expectations in win over Hofstra

by Joe Clyne | 9/15/14 5:20pm

The men’s soccer team notched its first win of the season on Sunday afternoon, taking down the Hofstra University Pride (2-2-2) on the road 2-1. The game was an important victory for the squad, halting a two-game losing skid that began the season and suggestive of the Big Green’s potential this year in the Ivy League.

Goals by Robin Alnas ’15 and Alex Adelabu ’15 propelled the Big Green (1-2, 0-0 Ivy) to a win.

Dartmouth’s win came on the heels of back-to-back losses in South Bend, Indiana, to the last two NCAA soccer champions. On Sept. 6, the Big Green fell to the defending national champion the University of Notre Dame. The second-ranked Fighting Irish beat Dartmouth 4-1 in Dartmouth’s third three-goal loss since 2011.

“The biggest thing going into the tournament is that we had the expectation to compete,” head coach Chad Riley said. “We were trying to get up to speed in those first two games and I thought we did it really well. Even against Notre Dame, they scored fluky goals and we had a weird own goal, some of the mental errors that you can turn around as the season goes on.”

Dartmouth then took on the University of Indiana, another ranked team, on Sept. 8. This game was a tighter battle, but the Big Green ultimately fell to the Hoosiers 1-0. The Hoosiers scored in the opening minutes, but could not relax against a penetrating Big Green attack.

Though the Hoosiers held on for the win, the Big Green’s stalwart performance bodes well for easier matches in Ivy League play.

“Those first few losses showed us, even when you’re good, when you’re playing with the best teams, you can’t make mistakes,” Adelabu said. “Good teams will punish you for those mistakes and that’s what happened in the tournament, although we played well.”

Against Hofstra, the Big Green jumped out to an early lead on the strength of an Adelabu goal in the 15th minute. Tyler Dowse ’18 passed to Adelabu, Dartmouth’s leading goal-scorer for the past two years. Adelabu flicked the ball over a defender and headed it past Hofstra’s goalie, junior Patric Pray.

Holding a one goal lead, the Big Green refused to let up, keeping the pressure on Hofstra. Alnas came on as a substitute in the first half and quickly contributed, scoring in the 39th minute.

“The goal came after a transition on our part,” Alnas said. “We had the ball in our half, and put together a few passes before we had a long ball down the line to [Hugh Danilack ’15] who hit it to me.”

Alnas’s tally came at the tail end of a terrific half for the Big Green. Dartmouth doubled Hofstra’s shot total in the first half, with 10 to the Pride’s five. Both of the Big Green’s shots on target found the back of the net.

Halftime, Alnas said, allowed Hofstra to adjust and get organized.

“In the first half we were pretty dominant and it didn’t seem like they were happy at all,” he said.

Then, Hofstra Coach Richard Nuttall adjusted his lineup at halftime, swapping sophomore goalie Brian McPartland for Pray. McPartland did not allow a second-half goal, saving Dartmouth’s two shots on target.

Hofstra ramped up its attack in the second half, attempting to close the two goal deficit to earn at least a draw, but could only sneak one shot past Dartmouth’s goalie Stefan Cleveland ’16. In the 53rd minute, sophomore Hofstra midfielder Joseph Holland slotted a goal into the left corner of the net off an assist from senior Elliott Firth that narrowed the gap to one.

“They started hitting longer balls and really pinning us back,” Alnas said. “It’s a very mental game when you’re up 2-0. We really have everything to lose while they have everything to win.”

The Pride’s attack continued after the first goal, but the team could not break through for an equalizing effort and fell to Dartmouth 2-1.

“Hofstra is similar caliber to Ivy League teams that we’ll be facing,” Riley said. “There’s good soccer in the Northeast, and I won’t be surprised when they win their conference and when they play in the tournament.”

Hofstra started the season fairly well, but proved a much easier matchup for the Big Green than the Fighting Irish or the Hoosiers.

“Every year, we have the expectation that we can win the Ivy League,“ Cleveland said. “Although the Ivy League looks good this year, we expect not just to win the Ivy League but to dominate the Ivy League. We want to get in the NCAA tournament and get deep in the tournament. Once you get deep, anything can happen.”

Dartmouth hopes to bounce back from a disappointing 1-6 record in Ivy League play last season.

Dartmouth’s defense has been particularly strong through the first three games of the season, though the statistics may not reflect that yet, Riley said.

Through three games, the Big Green has allowed six goals, twice as many as the team allowed in the first three games of last season.

The Big Green next take the field at home 7 p.m. Friday against the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.