Final wins earn both soccer teams third place in Ivy League

by Baily Deeter | 11/12/18 2:20am

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The men’s and women’s soccer teams finished off their seasons this weekend, each earning their fourth conference win.

by Arya Kadakia / Arya Kadakia

Dartmouth’s men’s and women’s soccer teams both had strong 2018 seasons, with each finishing third in Ivy League play and the women’s team recording its best overall finish since 2012.

Men’s soccer

Men’s soccer finished with a 7-5-5 overall record and a 4-1-2 conference record. While the Big Green managed a top three conference finish, its streak of four consecutive Ivy League championships was snapped. Dartmouth was one of only two teams not to lose to league champion Princeton University, who finished 5-1-1 in conference play, but a loss to Columbia University and a tie with Yale University prevented the Big Green from keeping pace with the Tigers.

However, there were a lot of positives in head coach Bo Oshoniyi’s first season in spite of difficult circumstances. Oshoniyi took over after four years as the East Tennessee State University head coach and inherited a team losing two Major League Soccer draft picks, including Wyatt Omsberg ’18, the first Ivy Leaguer ever selected in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. Furthermore, Oshoniyi was hired over three months after the end of the 2017 campaign, so he didn’t get an entire offseason to shape the program.

“[Oshoniyi] was brought in to a very difficult condition,” Eduvie Ikoba ’19 said. “We went the whole winter without a coach, and [the entire staff wasn’t assembled] until the preseason.”

Additionally, an injury to star forward Ikoba put a damper on the team’s season. Despite leading the Big Green with five goals on the season, he was only healthy for seven games in total.

“It was a season full of adversity, and the guys did a great job of battling through it,” Oshoniyi said. “We went seven wins, three ties and one loss in our last 11 games. This is something the guys should be proud of.”

The loss of Ikoba meant that the Big Green had to rely on strong goalkeeping to contend. Dartmouth used four goalkeepers during the season, starting Christopher Palacios ’21 for 10 games, Henry Stusnick ’20 for six games, Alex Budnik ’22 for one game and using Max Lurie ’19 in reserve. Stusnick finished the season with a save percentage of .840, Palacios posted a .775 save percentage and Budnik a perfect 1.000 after a shoutout in his lone start of the season. Dartmouth finished the season with five shutouts, with Stusnick posting three and one apiece coming from Palacios and Budnik.

While Ikoba only recorded points in the final three games of the season, he still finished the campaign as the team leader with 11 points. He scored five goals in the team’s last three games, including the only two goals in a 2-0 victory over Harvard University and a particularly memorable overtime winner against Cornell University.

“It was great to score the game-winning goal against Cornell and to see how happy everyone was for me,” Ikoba said. “They knew how much it meant to me, so it’s definitely something I’m going to cherish for a long time.”

Oshoniyi also highlighted a few other players for their stellar performances throughout the season.

“Jonny Nierenberg [’18] was an absolute warrior for us and a true leader for the team,” Oshoniyi said. “Matt Pickering [’22] came on as a freshman and did great things for us on defense and Max Heffron [’19] gave us great leadership on the backline.”

Even though Dartmouth was unable to win the Ivy League championship, there was a lot to appreciate from the season.

“A lot of the upperclassmen told me that these would be the best four years of my life and they would go by quickly,” Ikoba said. “I’m starting to realize more and more how much of a pleasure it is to get to experience these days. I’ve been thankful to make memories with this team.”

While the loss of 10 seniors will leave big shoes to fill, the outlook for the 2019 season is positive. The team’s primary three goalkeepers are returning, in addition to star defenders Henry Baldwin ’20 and Braden Salvati ’20. On top of that, Oshoniyi will have a full offseason to prepare the program for the upcoming season.

“It was great to see the team embrace the change and buy into my philosophies and keep the rich tradition of Dartmouth soccer success alive,” Oshoniyi said. “I like the team we have coming back and the recruits we have coming in for 2019.”

Look for the Big Green to seek revenge and a fifth Ivy League title in six years during Oshoniyi’s second season in Hanover.

Women’s soccer

The women’s team consistently found itself at the bottom of the Ivy League pack in head coach Ron Rainey’s last three seasons, finishing with just two conference wins in those three seasons combined. However, the team broke into the upper half of the conference with a tremendous 2018 season.

Dartmouth finished 10-5-2 overall and 4-2-1 in Ivy League play, just behind the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. The Big Green impressively tied co-champion Princeton and defeated Brown University, Cornell, Harvard and Yale. Rainey indicated that the Big Green did a better job winning the close games that they often fell short in during the 2017 season.

“I thought the season went great,” Rainey said. “We competed and battled like we did in 2017, but we got results out of it. That was from a lot of hard work and a lot of team sacrifice.”

Dartmouth racked up a few notable wins throughout the season. In out-of-conference play, the Big Green established the type of team they were going to be from the start with a gritty overtime victory over the University of Rhode Island.

“It was nice because we had lost a few overtime games [in 2017],” Rainey said. “To win that game put our team in a great mindset.”

Dartmouth finished 6-3-1 against non-league opponents, including a critical double-overtime road triumph over the University of New Hampshire. The Big Green kept its positive momentum rolling in the Ivy League, racking up another statement victory in its first game against Brown. Among the four in-conference victories, Rainey specifically mentioned the Harvard game, a 3-1 victory on Senior Night.

“We went down a goal and came back in the second half and scored three,” Rainey said. “I think that was a great moment for us.”

Midfielder Remy Borinsky ’19 capped off her Dartmouth career on a stellar note, finishing the season with 18 points from six goals and six assists. Forward Izzy Glennon ’22 finished second on the team with 11 points, including some critical goals in Ivy League play. Her goal against Yale was the lone score in a 1-0 victory, and she ended the season on a strong note with a game-winning goal in double overtime in the Big Green’s season finale against Cornell.

Borinsky and four other players received All-Ivy League recognition for their success this season. Borinsky and defender Bonnie Shea ’21 were voted First-Team All-Ivy League, while goalkeeper Mariel Gordon ’21, midfielder Erin Kawakami ’21 and midfielder Alyssa Neuberger ’20 were named Honorable Mentions.

While these individual standouts certainly helped the team, both Rainey and Gordon emphasized that the strong team culture is what led to the team’s success this season.

“We focused on implementing a strong team culture which created a solid foundation for us in the off season,” Gordon said. “We also made it a priority to be ‘all in.’ This saying really refocused our team on the ultimate goal in training each day.”

Gordon had a phenomenal season in net for the Big Green, starting all 17 games for the second straight year. She improved significantly from her freshman season, posting a save percentage of .835 this season as opposed to a .732 mark last season.

With a strong 2018 season in the books, the Big Green now look forward to a promising 2019 season. Nine of its top 10 point-scorers will return next season, including Glennon, Kawakami and Tracey Mills ’22.

“If improvement was linear, we could really look forward to 2019,” Rainey said. “But we know how much effort and work we have to put in to start off 2019 the way we want to.”

With such a talented group of returning players, the Big Green can certainly be expected to contend for the 2019 Ivy League championship.