Men's soccer fights for a berth

by Brad Limpert | 11/8/02 6:00am

Apparently the Dartmouth men's soccer team doesn't like to do anything the easy way. After getting their heads above water for the first time all season (five consecutive wins upped the team's record to 7-6-1), the men took a step back on Tuesday with a disappointing overtime loss to Maine.

Now the Big Green finds itself right back in the same do-or-die situation where it's been for the last four weeks. The Big Green (7-7-1, 3-1-1 Ivy) needs a win tomorrow night at Cornell (4-6-3, 1-3-1 Ivy) to keep its slim hopes of an Ivy League championship and NCAA berth alive.

Tuesday in Orono was a frustrating look back to the beginning of the season for the Big Green. Dartmouth outplayed the Black Bears (3-11-2) but couldn't find the offense to put one in the back of the net.

The Big Green held an advantage in shots (12-7) and corners (7-2) for the game, but there would be no justice for the Dartmouth men. In the fourth minute of overtime, senior Patrick Kelly scored his first collegiate goal to give Maine a 1-0 win.

Kelly's goal came off a rebound after Doug Carr '03 made the initial save, Kelly found himself open to slot home the game-winner and give the Black Bears a happy ending on their Senior Day.

The loss puts the Big Green in jeopardy of missing out on the postseason. Dartmouth hoped the results of the last three games would get the team to the 10-win plateau for the year and secure its place in the NCAA tournament.

Already critical, the Big Green's final two games of the season are now magnified in importance. Dartmouth needs two wins to secure, at worst, second place in the Ivies and the hope that a 9-7-1 record could buy an invitation to the dance.

The first order of business is tomorrow night's game in Ithaca. Don't be deceived by Cornell's last place standing in the league. Like all Ivy League games, tomorrow will be a fight from start to finish.

The Big Red is on a bit of a high coming off last weekend's victory over Princeton. The win over the Tigers snapped a seven-game winless streak for Cornell, and there's nothing it would like better than to play the role of spoiler on Saturday night.

Though the record doesn't show it, the Big Red has been competitive in all of its games. Only two of its losses (Bradley and Yale) were by more than one goal, and its schedule also includes an impressive early season draw against Notre Dame.

Throw in the fact that tomorrow's game is Cornell's home finale and Senior Night, not to mention the frigid conditions that come along with a 7 p.m. start in Ithaca, and the Big Green men know they have their work cut out for them.

At the same time, don't expect Dartmouth to come out complacent. The team has a new sense of urgency and is hoping to put the loss to Maine in the past. The Big Green knows its season is riding on the next two games and is fully aware of its precarious spot on the tournament bubble.

Look for the Big Green players to regain the form that carried them past Harvard last weekend and be a spoiler of their own. They saw Maine celebrate on Tuesday, and they aren't about to allow the same thing to happen twice in one week.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. tomorrow night before the Big Green returns home for its season finale next Saturday against Brown.

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