Big Green Weekend Primer
This weekend is arguably the biggest of the year for Dartmouth athletics, rivaling last spring’s baseball and softball Ivy League Championship Series weekend. Four teams -— football, men’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country — will compete for a chance at Ivy League titles this weekend, while women’s soccer and field hockey look to play their way back into the conversation. Saturday will be enormous, with 16 of Dartmouth’s 34 varsity teams taking the field. Here are a few of our picks for the weekend.
Football vs. No. 18 Harvard University
(3:30 p.m. Saturday)
A Harvard-Dartmouth game is always circled on the calendar, but few have been more crucial than this season’s tilt. Both teams are 3-0 in the Ancient Eight for the first time since 1997. Since that fateful matchup, which Harvard won 24-0, the Crimson has dominated the series, winning 16 of the last 17. Last season, the Crimson bested the Big Green 24-21 on a last minute field goal.
Needless to say, this one’s going to be big. Harvard is fresh off a 49-7 thrashing of last season’s co-champion Princeton University and sits at 6-0 on the year. The Big Green is 5-1, with its lone blemish coming at the hands of No. 4 University of New Hampshire.
Both offenses are potent, averaging around 30 points per game. But, the Crimson outgains the Big Green 475-366 yards per game on the season. The defenses will be key, as both teams post incredibly efficient red zone numbers (88.5 percent for Dartmouth and 86.4 percent for Harvard). So far this year, Harvard’s defense has looked phenomenal, giving up only 10.5 points per game, compared to Dartmouth’s 24.8.
This game will be another battle of the quarterbacks. Dalyn Williams ’16 is having a breakout year and is coming off an extra week of rest since he did not play in the 27-7 win over Columbia University. Senior Conner Hempel has been similarly impressive for the Crimson — in his two games this season, he is 36-44 for 519 yards and five touchdowns. His team has put up over 40 points in both games.
The Big Green needs to play its best game to get the win and control its destiny for the Ivy League title.
PREDICTION: Dartmouth 24-21
Women’s soccer vs. Harvard
(4:30 p.m. Saturday)
The two hottest teams in the Ivy League clash on Saturday at Burnham Field. Both Harvard (9-3-2, 4-0-1 Ivy) and Dartmouth (6-4-4, 2-0-3 Ivy) come in riding three-game winning streaks. The Crimson sits four points ahead of the Big Green, which needs a win to stay alive for the Ivy League Championship.
The Big Green is built on defense, with a solid back line and goaltender in Tatiana Saunders ’15, and has allowed only three goals in Ancient Eight contests this season. Harvard, on the other hand, is an offensive juggernaut, having scored 25 goals this season. Dartmouth has scored 15. Harvard has been equally stingy in conference play, surrendering only four goals. Sophomore Margaret Purce and junior Emily Mosbacher lead the Crimson with six and four goals, respectively. Lucielle Kozlov ’16 and Tasha Wilkins ’15 have five and four of their own.
This game could have major implications for the final game of the year. The Big Green plays basement dweller Cornell University (1-4-0 Ivy) while the Crimson squares off against Columbia (2-2-1 Ivy). If the Big Green wins, the final Saturday of Ivy play will be interesting.
PREDICTION: Dartmouth 1-0
Men’s soccer vs. Harvard
(7 p.m. Saturday)
Dartmouth (9-4-1, 3-1-0 Ivy) currently sits two points ahead of Harvard (9-4-1, 2-1-1 Ivy). Although both teams still have three games left, Saturday’s matchup will go a long way to determining the eventual Ivy League champion. If the Big Green wins, it would be five points up on the Crimson and at least two up on the second place team. With a remaining schedule of middle-of-the-pack Cornell and Brown University, the Big Green could be primed to return to the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2011.
The two teams are evenly matched. The Crimson has a slight edge in goals at 28-26, but the Big Green has scored more in league (8-5). Defensively, the teams are identical -— having given up 17 total and only four in league. Both teams have also only been shut out once this season — in early season defeats. Harvard has a slight five to four advantage in shut outs.
Expect a high-scoring affair in front of a raucous crowd at Burnham Field. The Big Green will come ready to play.
PREDICTION: Dartmouth 3-2