Field hockey beats Columbia 4-2 for second straight win

by James Handal | 10/27/15 7:01pm

In its fifth Ivy League game, the field hockey team beat Columbia University 4-2 in a tough conference match on Sunday. Anna Ewasechko ’18 and Heather Zezzo ’17 scored single tallies, while Brooke van Valkenburg ’16 scored a brace to defeat the Lions at the Chase AstroTurf Field. The Big Green improved to 6-7 overall and 2-3 in Ivy League, while the Columbia Lions fell to 8-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play. The Big Green, Columbia and Harvard University are tied for fourth in Ivy League standings with identical 2-3 conference records after this weekend of play.

“This win epitomizes what we’ve been working toward all season,” Eliza Becker ’16 said. “We had a fast start with two early goals and were relentless through the final minutes of the game in preserving our lead.”

After a string of disappointing results to start its conference slate, Dartmouth has strung together a pair of consecutive Ivy League wins and appears poised to finish its season on a strong note. The gap between the three teams knotted for fourth and the two teams sitting at second remains large, as the two second place teams — the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University — both share 4-1 conference records.

The Big Green’s strong start proved to be the deciding factor against Columbia. Van Valkenburg scored five minutes into the game, and Dartmouth never lost the lead after that point. After one-goal games against the University of Maine and Yale University, a strong start to the game was critical for the team, head coach Amy Fowler said.

“We executed corners really well this weekend, which we know we can do, but we played a collective 70 minutes and really starting off the first half strongly was a big factor,” Fowler said. “We put them on their heals a little, and they really never recovered. Much credit to Ewasechko, she is the becoming a force in the midfield with the loss of [Julia Donald ’18].”

The Big Green continued its strong first period with another goal by Van Valkenburg in the 22nd minute, bringing Dartmouth’s lead to 2-0. To open the scoring, Ewasechko and Becker took the corner play and found Van Valkenburg, who pushed the ball past the keeper. In her second attempt on goal, Van Valkenburg scored her eighth score of the season with the assists from Ewasechko and Becker from a deflection to the back of the net.

As Dartmouth appeared ready to run away with the lead, the Lions responded with a goal in the 28th minute off a redirection from a corner play to keep the Big Green within distance.

Goalkeeper Paige Duffy ’17 had to fight off a high volume of Columbia attempts in the first period, as the Lions launched 11 shots at net. Duffy made six of her seven saves in the first, but perhaps none was more important than the penalty shot she was able to deny just over a minute before the end of the first. After earning a penalty stroke down 2-1, Columbia had the chance to tie it heading into the break, but a save by Duffy kept the Big Green in front.

In the second period, Dartmouth once again enjoyed a quick start, scoring five minutes into the second half. Rebecca Hu ’15 played a give-and-go with Ewasechko, who recorded her third goal this season when she maneuvered past the defense and shot past the goalie to put the Big Green ahead 3-1.

Just as the Dartmouth was dominating play late in the second half, the Lions responded with a goal in the 67th minute as the Big Green was caught shorthanded in a two-on-one that saw Columbia score on a shot from just inside the arch. The Big Green, however, quickly neutralized any chance at a comeback by responding just 58 seconds later with a goal from Zezzo, who had a diving redirect on a pass from Ewasechko. Ewasechko recorded three assists and four points to help lead the Big Green to victory.

“The match against Columbia was a great win between two evenly matched teams,” Duffy said. “In the end, both teams fought the entire time but it came down to who wanted it more. Offensively, we were hungry and were able to take quick, effective and smart shots, which made the difference and allowed us to gain momentum.”

The Big Green out-shot the Lions 19-14 and had a favor in penalty corners 14-6. Duffy recorded seven saves and had two goals against while Columbia goalie Kimberly Pianucci had six saves and four goals against.

“Defensively, we were able to make strong tackles outside the circle, minimizing corner opportunities and fending off as many shots as possible by managing their fast break opportunities,” Duffy said. “These efforts combined led to a great performance by Dartmouth from the entire team on both ends of the field.”

The Big Green is back in action on Wednesday night in a non-conference road game against the College of Holy Cross at 6 p.m.

“Holy Cross is always a good match to play in, and this week will be no exception,” Duffy said. “Harvard has already played this team, so the outcome of this game will send a direct message to Harvard.”