On a roll, the Dartmouth men's soccer team is heading south for a Saturday showdown with Columbia, and while the team may be getting itself into a New York state of mind, it's certain that revenge will be on the mind of the Big Green veterans when they take the field tomorrow afternoon.
Two years ago, Dartmouth saw its hopes for an Ivy League title vanish when the Lions pulled off a shocking upset on their home turf.
Now, the Big Green (4-6-1, 1-1-1 Ivy) and Lions (6-4-1, 1-1-1 Ivy) are tied for third, which makes tomorrow's match-up a crucial one. With Penn atop the league at 3-0, a second loss for either squad will douse any realistic hopes of an Ivy League title.
While the teams are tied in the standings, their seasons appear to be headed in opposite directions. Columbia opened the season with four-straight wins before going 2-4-1 in the last seven games. The Lions enter the game winless in their last three after suffering a midweek loss to Fairleigh Dickinson University.
For the Dartmouth team, however, it appears to be all systems go. After dropping its first four games of the season, the Big Green has turned it around and is unbeaten in its last three.
Striker Scott Darci '05 has helped end the scoring woes that plagued the squad during the early weeks of the season with three goals in his last three games.
At the other end of the field, goalkeeper Doug Carr '03 and the rest of the defensive unit have been dominating. With two shutouts over the weekend, Carr has not yielded a goal in 216 minutes of play, dating back to the Yale game.
After knocking off 10th-ranked Bradley over the weekend, the Big Green is eager to get back on the field and keep things moving in the right direction.
"Everyone is excited to get back on the field and continue to fight our way back into the season," defender Zach Schwartz '02 said.
"We still control our own destiny, and things have started to click."
Schwartz is the latest member of the team hit by injury, having broken his cheekbone in the Wisconsin game. A fifth-year, medical redshirt, Schwartz has decided to forego season-ending surgery that would repair the bone in order to help the Big Green down the stretch.
Like captain Matt Miller '03 playing with a broken nose and Scott Lish '03 toughing out a sore knee, Schwartz and his teammates are demonstrating the necessary grit and determination that a successful Ivy campaign requires.
Tomorrow won't be an easy task as for some reason Columbia has Dartmouth's number in the Big Apple. Dartmouth hasn't left Columbia with a win in almost 50 years. It's something that the team is well aware of, and a streak it is determined to stop.
"The lads are obviously on a real high after last weekend," co-captain Tom Billings '03 said.
"We know Columbia is a tough place to get a win, but we truly believe that this is the year to put the ghost to rest."
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 tomorrow afternoon in New York. The Big Green returns to action at Chase Field for two games next week: Tuesday afternoon in a non-league contest against Holy Cross before next Sunday's Homecoming game against Harvard.