Men’s soccer moves to first in Ivy League after 1-0 win over Yale

by Ray Lu | 10/13/15 6:01pm

The men’s soccer team emerged victorious from a defensive standoff against Yale University (1-9-0, 0-2 Ivy) in New Haven, Connecticut, this past Saturday, taking the game 1-0. The match marked the Big Green’s fourth-straight win and moved Dartmouth (6-3-1, 2-0 Ivy) into a tie for first in the Ivy League with Harvard University (4-4-2, 2-0 Ivy).

“Credit to the group,” head coach Chad Riley said. “[Yale is] not an easy place to go down to. You look through the history and Yale’s a tough place to get a good result, so I was very proud of just the overall effort of the group.”

After Saturday’s result, Yale leads the all-time series with Dartmouth 39-34-6. Last season, the two teams met on Oct. 11, when Dartmouth won handily 4-1, extending its unbeaten streak at the time to eight games.

The Bulldogs have won only one game this season, in large part due to its poor defensive effort. Yale and Cornell University are tied for the bottom spot in the League standings, and Yale sits last in goals allowed per game with 2.46, almost a full goal more than the University of Pennsylvania, which sits second to last with 1.63 goals allowed per game. In contrast, Dartmouth has allowed just seven goals in 10 games this season.

Across the duration of the contest, Yale put together a sturdy defensive effort and tested the resolve of Dartmouth’s offense, holding the Big Green scoreless in the first half. Seven minutes after the halftime break, though, Sam Rosen ’16 registered the first Ivy League goal of his career, popping it over Yale’s goalkeeper and into the net.

“We were in the attacking third around the box,” Rosen said. “The ball was up for grabs and bounced out. I picked it up, took a touch into space and saw an opportunity to shoot, so I took advantage of it.”

The Bulldogs attempted to rally but were unable to get past Dartmouth’s defensive line and goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland ’16, who now owns five shutouts on the season and holds the highest save percentage in the Ivy League at 0.861. Cleveland was only forced into three save situations against Yale, but two came in the last seven minutes. Dartmouth out-shot Yale 12-to-6, putting six shots on target compared to the Bulldogs’s three.

“As Yale became a little bit more direct we had a couple of moments where we needed to defend well, and we did,” Riley said. “We had a couple of good chances to put the game away, but we weren’t able to do that.”

The offensive firepower did not kick in for Dartmouth until the second half as Yale limited Dartmouth to just four shots in the first period.

The Bulldogs, however, could not capitalize, testing Cleveland just once. Yale freshman forward Kyle Kenagy leads the Bulldogs with three goals and nine shots on target on the season but could not find his form in the match and managed to get just one shot off in the 83rd minute, which Cleveland saved.

“Yale came out with a good plan to frustrate us going forward for a little bit,” Riley said. “They were very difficult to break down, but I thought overall we did make a ton of chances in the first half.”

The Big Green also racked up nearly double the number of fouls as Yale, 19-to-10. The total was Dartmouth’s second highest of the season, two short of the Big Green’s 21 against the University of Washington on Sept. 18.

“We were gunning forward a lot of the game, and Yale was just sitting back and looking to counterattack, which is dangerous sometimes because they might catch you off-guard,” Rosen said. “Luckily we stayed solid in the back four, and [Cleveland] had a great game.”

With Rosen’s second goal of the season, he is tied with three other teammates for the team lead in goals. Dartmouth has found contributions from all over the pitch this season with 10 players registering at least one score.

Indicative of the high stakes and razor slim margins in Ivy League matchups, both of Dartmouth’s wins over Ancient Eight opponents came through a 1-0 score.

The Crimson is the only other undefeated team in the conference. The two teams will not face off until Halloween weekend, but as the two teams separate themselves from the pack early, the story-line will only continue to build.

Riley emphasized Dartmouth’s game-by-game approach. Next week, the Big Green hit the road again, this time for a road tilt against the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, with kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

“I think one of the big things is preparing mentally that you’re going away from home — playing against good teams, knowing that the game’s not going to go perfect,” Riley said. “You’ve just got to be able to adapt within the game. Go in there with the mentality that you’re going to work very hard, play together, be very solid defensively and take your chances on the attack.”