A lot has changed since the last time the Dartmouth men's soccer team stepped on to Chase Field. Two weeks ago, the Big Green was left with the bittersweet satisfaction of playing well against No. 1 Stanford but once again coming up short of getting a result.
After two overtime wins, the Big Green (2-4-0, 1-0-0 Ivy) is back on track and returns home ready for tomorrow's Ivy League clash against the University of Pennsylvania (5-1, 1-0 Ivy).
Although the Big Green has not lost to Penn in the last four seasons (3-0-1), the Quaker team traveling to Hanover is quite a different one than Dartmouth has faced over the previous years.
While the Quakers have held up the bottom of the standings in the Ivy League the past few seasons, the young and inexperienced Penn team has matured into a viable contender for the Ivy League title.
Preseason publications have picked the Quakers to finish in the top three, and their hot start has done nothing to make onlookers think otherwise. After dropping their season opener to Seton Hall, Penn has rattled off five straight wins, including last weekend's overtime win at Cornell.
Not to be outdone, the Dartmouth men are gaining quite a bit of their own momentum. After cracking the win column for the first time against Princeton, the Big Green used the finishing of Juan Romera '03 to pick up their second straight win on Wednesday.
Romera's two goals carried Dartmouth to a 2-1 overtime win at Northeastern. With a win on Saturday, Dartmouth would move to 2-0 in the league and hold onto first place in the young Ivy season.
"Tomorrow is a huge stepping stone for us," Declan Lynch '03 said. "We're on a bit of a roll right now, and there's nothing we'd like more than to keep it going."
"We've gotten a few results, but our best game has yet to be played. If we keep improving, we'll be a tough side to beat."
Goals will be a precious commodity tomorrow when these two defensive stalwarts take the field. The Dartmouth back four of Zach Schwartz '02, Matt Miller '03, Mike Vidmar '03 and Oliver Harker-Smith '05 has been spectacular in the opening weeks of the season.
While the back four have been limiting the action that gets to him, goalie Doug Carr '03 has been equally up to the task. The current Ivy League Rookie of the Week, Carr is conceding less than a goal per game.
The Big Green strikers won't find thier task much easier than their Penn counterparts. The Quakers have a goals against average of 0.49, the sixth best in the country. Goalie Matt Haefner has already posted three shutouts on the season and was named to the Ivy League Honor Roll and Philadephia Soccer 7 Player of the Week.
Something will have to give tomorrow as two streaking teams face off. The Class of 2003 will look to finish their careers unbeaten by the Quakers and further establish Dartmouth's hold at the top of the Ivy League standings. Game time is 1 p.m. tomorrow at Chase Field.