Men's soccer closes frustrating season
With 20 minutes left in a game against Princeton on Oct. 17, the men's soccer team was cruising along with a 2-0 lead and enjoying what Coach Bobby Clark described as "the best soccer we played all year."
Ten minutes later, the game was tied and the Big Green headed for an overtime defeat in a game which may have been the turning point of a season filled with expectations but marked with inconsistency.
Dartmouth rode a four-game win streak heading into the much-anticipated matchup against the Tigers, who were 3-0 in the Ivy League at the time. A win would have left the Big Green with a 7-2 record, with four of the six remaining games against teams with sub-.500 records.
Instead, the Big Green went on to lose two heartbreaking, 1-0 games during which they displayed their superiority but simply could not put the ball in the net. Dartmouth outshot Cornell, 15-5, on Oct. 24 and Harvard 18-3 during Homecoming, but both times were shutout.
The New England regional rankings entering the last week of the season perhaps best symbolized their enigmatic season. The Big Green held the sixth spot, but had defeated each of the teams ranked in the top four.
But four 1-0 losses to lesser opponents and Princeton's come-from-behind victory left them with five losses, too many for an NCAA selection committee to overlook. They finished the year with a 9-6 record.
"Not so long ago, this would have been looked upon as a great year," Clark said. "I hope that this year will be used as an incentive."
While Dartmouth did not reach its potential as a team, they did receive many individual accolades. Co-Captain Ian Saward '95, Methembe Ndlovu '97, and Asa Marokus '95 were chosen as first-team All-Ivy League players.
Saward, a central defender who struggled through an injury-plagued year, earned first-team honors for the second straight year. Ndlovu, a defensive midfielder who hails from Zimbabwe, was the runner-up for Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Marokus, who received honorable mention last year, anchored a defense that gave up only 14 goals in 15 games.
Despite playing behind the two stalwart central backs, the efforts of goalie Brian Wiese '95 did not go unnoticed. Wiese, who finished the season with a 0.76 goals-against-average, was named a second-team All-Ivy League player for the second consecutive season.
Leading scorer David Moran '96, Co-Captain Blaine LeGere '95, and Geoff Zawtocki '94 all received honorable mention All-Ivy status. Zawtocki was also chosen, as were Co-Captain John Faubert '94 and Bepi Raviola '94, to play in the N.E.I.S.L. Senior All-Star game.
The three graduating seniors each enjoyed marvelous collegiate careers. Each played significant roles on the NCAA quarterfinalist and Ivy League championship teams of 1990 and 1992.
Zawtocki, known as "the Rocket," will forever be remembered for his 40-yard goal against Columbia in a 1990 second-round NCAA tournament game. Raviola was a four-year varsity forward who struck fear in opponents with devastating speed and dangerous crosses. Faubert, a two-year varsity starter, was a freshman walk-on who became a varsity captain.
While the contributions of the three departing seniors will certainly be missed, the Big Green return eight starters and numerous letterwinners, including George O'Brien '95, Bill Cronin '95, Jeff Cucunato '95, Pete Hecht '95, Chris Mitchell '95 and Mike Bradley '96.
The team will begin next-year's season with a pre-season trip to Scotland and will also participate in a tournament at the University of Virginia, where they will take on the two-time defending national champion Cavaliers.
Looking to next year, Clark said "the team now has to ask themselves how they can get to the next level."