Men’s soccer to face Crimson at home for top spot in Ivy League

by Nick Harrington | 10/30/14 6:22pm

In potentially the team’s most important game of the season, men’s soccer takes on Harvard University at Burnham Field Saturday night, looking to make up for last season’s matchup. The teams are the top two in the Ivy League standings, and Dartmouth enters the competition in a much better position than last year.

The Big Green (9-4-1, 3-1 Ivy) is coming off two close wins, a 1-0 (OT) win away at Columbia University last Saturday, and an impressive 1-0 win against Boston College on Tuesday. The Crimson (9-4-1, 2-1-1 Ivy) has had a more mixed record in recent weeks, dropping its last Ivy League game 3-2 against Princeton University.

Dartmouth fell to Harvard last season 2-1 in Cambridge, in the midst of a difficult streak for the Big Green when the team dropped seven of eight games.

“We lost the Harvard game last year at their place, so this game should be easy for everybody to get motivated for,” Gabe Stauber ’15 said. “We owe them one and, in doing so, we’ll take a huge step in Ivy League play.”

The Crimson and the Big Green have nearly identical stat lines this year. Both teams have allowed 17 goals on the year while Harvard has notched just two more goals than Dartmouth in 14 games.

Dartmouth’s two-game winning streak entering Saturday’s game came on the heels of two disappointing losses to Boston University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Though the wins against Columbia and Boston College were important, Stauber said, this game against Harvard will have a very different feel.

“Columbia and BC were completely different games for us. Columbia represented a game where we showed that we could grind out a tough victory against a team that was desperate for a win,” Stauber said. “BC showed that we are about to control games and dominate strong teams from any conference around the country.”

For the Big Green to stand a chance, it will have to take care of business against Harvard on Saturday, Alex Marsh ’17 said.

“If we beat Harvard, we’ll be one step closer to winning the Ivy League Conference, and making the NCAA tournament,” Marsh said.

Harvard and Dartmouth are the top two teams in the Ivy League in shots per game, with the Crimson averaging 17.6 and the Big Green in a distant second with 13.9. Both teams should generate a number of scoring opportunities, particularly since the teams are tied for fourth in the Ivy League in goals allowed, giving up 1.21 goals per game.

Stauber noted that the game will come down to finishing chances at the net.

After a disappointing 2013 season, James Hickok ’17 said the Harvard game is particularly important for the Big Green’s seniors.

“The seniors are a tight knit group of players that are doing everything they can to finish their careers on a high note,” said Hickock. “With that comes this opportunity this weekend to take down Harvard in a pivotal Ivy League match up with first place up for grabs.”

Dartmouth will look to its high-powered offense, led by points leaders Alex Adelabu ’15, captain Hugh Danilack ’15 and Robin Alnas ’15 to roar past the Crimson. Adelabu will enter the game on a hot streak after his game-winning goal against the Eagles on Tuesday, breaking a three-game goalless streak for the Big Green star. Adelabu seems poised to strike against the Crimson, particularly considering Harvard’s goalkeeping difficulties. Harvard’s goalie, junior Evan Mendez, has the second-worst save percentage in the Ivy League.

On defense, the Big Green will be looking to stop an extremely balanced Crimson attack. Six Harvard players have scored at least three goals this season while none have scored more than four. If Dartmouth looks to hone in on one player to stop, it will likely be 6-foot -inch junior midfielder Tim Schmoll who leads the team with four goals.

The game will kick off at Burnham Field Saturday at 7 p.m.