Men’s soccer to battle Bulldogs at Burnham Field Saturday
The men’s soccer team takes the pitch Saturday at Burnham Field, looking to remain undefeated in the Ivy League by taking down Yale University — which has yet to win a game this season.
On Tuesday, the Big Green (6-2-1, Ivy 1-0-0) stretched its unbeaten streak to seven by defeating Central Connecticut State University 3-1 at home.
Goalie James Hickok ’17 attributed the winning streak to the Big Green’s depth.
“This year we have the capability to play one team on the weekend and play another team during the week, which keeps everybody motivated for each game that we have,” Hickok said. “There’s no ‘loads’ this year. Everyone is really motivated and really excited to play every time they hit the field.”
Though the Bulldogs (0-7-2, Ivy 0-1-0) have yet to notch a win, they have played three overtime games Yale averages 11.6 shots per game but has only three goals across nine games to show for a seemingly active offense.
“We know that Yale has been pretty unlucky so far; they’re 0-7-2,” Robin Alnas ’15 said. “It’s up to us to not underestimate our opponent and play to the best of our potential.”
The Bulldogs’ struggles to convert came to the fore in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Central Connecticut State on Sept. 21 when Yale tallied 20 shots, but could not find the back of the net.
Dartmouth is also banking on its home field advantage, boasting a three game win streak and a 9-to-1 goal advantage at Burnham this year. With three straight home games next on the schedule, including two against Ivy League opponents, the Big Green has an important opportunity to separate from other Ivy League teams.
“When you go on the road, you travel, get on the bus, and it takes time to actually get going,” Alex Adelabu ’15 said. “But when you’re at home, you have the crowd behind you. You get pumped. Everyone is just excited to play at home. I think that’s a big part of it. Also, we’re relaxed. This is our place — we eat and do everything here.”
The men’s soccer team has six wins already this season, matching its total from last season. The offense has totaled 32 shots in the last two games, demonstrating a high-powered attack led by top scorer Adelabu. He has put four in the back of the net this season, including two this past Tuesday.
The Bulldogs have split reps at goalkeeper between two players, sophomore Ryan Simpson and senior Blake Brown. After starting the first three games of the season, Simpson has ceded some time to Brown. Brown started and played the entire game against Harvard University in Yale’s Ivy opener.
Dartmouth’s goalies have also split time. Hickok played in the first two games of the season, but Stefan Cleveland ’16 then assumed the starting role. Hickok has started two of the last three games, though Cleveland played the team’s Ivy League opener against Princeton.
Hickok said he does not know what each goalie’s role will be against the Bulldogs.
Last season, the Big Green lost 1-0 in double overtime to the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs outshot Dartmouth 23-7 that game, winning on a blast from Cameron Kirdzik in the 107th minute.
“I think the biggest obstacle is ourselves,” Adelabu said. “When you get on a good streak like this, it is easy to get complacent. I think last year we were unbeaten until the first Ivy game. When we lost, it just really sank everybody down. The biggest source is to stick together. Keep doing what we’re doing. Don’t take them for granted. They haven’t won a game yet but they can still win the Ivy League, so you always have to be ready for each game.”
The men’s team has already beaten two squads, the University of Vermont and Princeton University, that it failed to get a win against last year. The team’s freshmen, Wyatt Omsberg ’18 and Matt Danilack ’18 had the overtime game-winning goals in those games, respectively.
“This time around, we are going to be more prepared to play our game,” Hickok said. “We’re very dangerous on things like set pieces and counterattacks, but then we also have some extremely talented players that have the ability to create things in the run of play as well, which has been a huge advantage for us.”
A win Saturday would give the Big Green its first five game winning streak since 2010, when Dartmouth advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
“We have a big goal to win five games in a row,” Hickok said. “We chose five games because the NCAA tournament is five games, so if we can win five games right now, we can do it at the end of the season. Beating Yale will be that fifth game, so we’re really excited for the game on Saturday.”
The game is set to start at 4:30 p.m.