Women’s soccer takes down Crimson 2-0 to stay alive

by Emily Wechsler | 11/2/14 3:35pm

by Eliza McDonough and Eliza McDonough / The Dartmouth

The women’s soccer team won its last home game of the season Saturday, beating Harvard University 2-0 at Burnham Field. Corey Delaney ’16 scored both goals, one in each half, to keep the Dartmouth women alive in the Ancient Eight.

The game was a must-win for Dartmouth (7-4-4, 3-0-3 Ivy) to have a shot at the Ivy League title, placing the team just one point behind Harvard (9-4-2, 4-1-1 Ivy). Each team will have one more league game next weekend. The Big Green will face last-place Cornell University (7-9, 1-5 Ivy) Saturday on the road, while the Crimson will return to Cambridge for its final match against fourth-place Columbia University (7-3-6, 2-2-2 Ivy).

Dartmouth extended its home unbeaten streak to 19 games since its non-conference loss to Pepperdine University in October 2012.

Five graduating seniors — Kate Castillo ’15, Kendall Kraus ’15, Tatiana Saunders ’15, Laura Thurber ’15 and Tasha Wilkins ’15 — were honored in a pre-game ceremony.

“I think people will remember this game for a long time,” head coach Ron Rainey said. “Especially those seniors, it’s special for them.”

The Crimson nearly scored on a play that drew Saunders out of the cage. She dove in front of the ball carrier to smother the ball, but it snuck underneath her. A Dartmouth defender was behind her and cleared it out.

In the 16th minute, a similar event happened on the opposite end of the pitch. Harvard senior goalkeeper Cheta Emba miscommunicated with a defender, as a ball from Jackie Friedman ’16 headed toward the top of the box. Neither defender nor keeper eliminated the threat, giving Delaney time to poke the ball over Emba. Delaney continued after the ball as it bounced into the open net, putting Dartmouth up 1-0.

The early goal gave Dartmouth more confidence, and the players began to dominate the midfield by winning 50-50 balls.

“That was definitely something we talked about,” Delaney said. “It’s always important to win 50-50s, especially in the midfield, control the game that way, and that was a big focus of ours this game.”

The Big Green defense was solid. Friedman used her speed and footwork to advance the ball, and she often intercepted throw-ins and passes on the defensive end to start attacking runs. On one advance she took a shot that should have been easy for Emba to cover, yet the net-minder did not handle the ball cleanly.

Emba entered the game with a 5-1-0 record in 10 games, but did not show the same strength in today’s match. Saunders has a 0.65 goals against average in 13 games, including seven clean sheets.

Harvard and Dartmouth both had early chances in the second half, including a ball that slipped through Emba’s hands and was just cleared out by the Harvard defense.

Less than five minutes in, Delaney scored again. She faced several defenders but attacked them with speed, using good footwork to get them on their heels. The defense gave her space at the top of the box, and the junior lined up a shot and fired it toward the far post on her right foot.

As the clock ticked down, Harvard pushed for goals, earning a free kick that senior Bethany Kanten sent wide. But, the game ended 2-0 and gave Harvard its first Ivy loss of the season.

“It was a really big win,” Delaney said. “It keeps us alive in the Ivy League — it’s going to come down to the last game. We hadn’t beaten Harvard last year, so it was a really good win.”

Rainey had even higher praise, calling it the team’s best game of the year.

“In the second half, our possession under pressure was the best we’ve had all year, and it allowed us to create some more chances and keep them away from our goal,” he said. “Our team is very solid defensively, but the way we possessed at times in midfield today helped make the game go fast in the second half instead of defending for long stretches.”

Conditions were wet, making the field slippery, but Delaney said the team adapted well. The team came from playing two games on artificial turf fields where play is faster, which Rainey said may have been good preparation for the extra speed the ball picked up on the wet Burnham Field grass. Players also talked about shortening their “swings” when kicking the ball.

“That second goal, I mean, what a great move from a left-footed player, she put it onto her right foot, and that was a short, compact swing and just a great goal,” Rainey said.

The Big Green plays the University of Massachusetts at Lowell Tuesday before hitting the road to play Cornell on Saturday.