Men's soccer is optimistic about their home stretch

by Austin Zalkin | 10/20/98 5:00am

With eight wins and a tie in 10 games, the Dartmouth men's soccer team has experienced great success so far this season. A top-15 national ranking and their current position atop the Ivy League has fulfilled preseason prophecies of Championship contention. Heading down the home stretch, the Big Green had exhibited many reasons for optimism and a few for concern.

First, the deficiencies: Dartmouth has lacked energy in the first half of many of its contests and uncharacteristically broke down in its only loss of the year against Vermont.

Seven scoreless first halves and three comeback victories attest to the Big Green's lackluster opening periods. While Dartmouth has conquered a large majority of its competitors, the team hasn't been able to jump out to commanding leads.

Dartmouth allowed three goals to the University of Vermont in that lone loss of the season. While the game stands as the only defensive failure to date, it is a source of concern since the opponent was weak compared to the national powers Dartmouth is likely to face in the postseason.

But the fact remains that Dartmouth will make the playoffs, and that they have a chance to go very far. An unexpectedly strong and balanced offense has complimented a star-studded backfield.

On offense, seven players have accounted for Dartmouth's 20 goals. This wide spread of scoring, which includes tallies from strikers and defensemen alike, reveals Dartmouth's cohesive play and good ball movement.

Within the team, individual stars have emerged. Chris Dedicik '99 and Chris Pedrick '99 lead the team in scoring with six goals. Backliner Brendan Reidy '99 has made a career rushing in from nowhere to head home corner kicks and crosses, knocking in his three goals in that manner.

In the season's opening game, a 1-0 win against Maine, Dedicik displayed some heriocs when he ended overtime by putting a rebound in the net. In Dartmouth's 1-0 victory over Boston College, Chris Pedrick scored a spectacular bicycle kick with three minutes remaining in regulation. And just last Sunday, freshman Danny Markman gave the Green a 2-1 victory over Yale with an overtime goal.

Goalie Matt Nyman '99 has performed superbly as the last line of defense, saving several shots a game that other college netminders might not. His 15 career shutouts leaves him tied for Dartmouth's record with seven career games left to play.

Reidy's goal scoring has merely complimented his ferocious defense as Dartmouth's star stopper. All-American candidate Bobby Meyer is known for his frequent scampers into the offensive mix as well as the ease with which he disarms ball handlers. He has scored a goal of his own this year and played a part, whether defensively or offensively, in at least half of the Big Green's total chances.

In all of the games that Dartmouth has trailed, the Big Green have put up a fight. In all but one of those instances, they have won. The team's never-say-die attitude has brought it to its current 14th ranking in the nation, and will most likely lead them higher.

In viewing the national picture, Dartmouth still needs to consider its Ivy League standing. Although it has defeated Penn, Princeton and Yale thus far, significant games against the other four members of the nation's oldest collegiate athletic league loom. In addition to a home game against Columbia, the Green will take on Cornell on enemy turf next Saturday, with away games also at Harvard and Brown.

The Brown game, which concludes the season for both teams, may decide the Ivy Championship. Following the Bears' victory over Columbia this Saturday, both teams stand at 3-0 in Ancient Eight play.

But as Dartmouth wraps up the regular season and looks forward to the playoffs, many feel that an Ivy Championship is not the most this team is capable of.

In recent years, Dartmouth has escaped the first round of the NCAA Tournament only a few times, but was eventually taken out in the second round.

Could this be the year Dartmouth advances past the second round? How deep into the playoffs can this team go? Find out soon; same Green time, same Green paper.