They started a tremendous 4-0-2, and after Tuesday's loss against Northeastern at home, they are looking at a 4-7-2 record; a seven-game losing streak.
Many have commented on the exact reason why the Big Green men's soccer team has not performed up to the level of the stellar play it exhibited earlier this season which promised of yet another Ivy League title. The men in Green have lost six of their past seven games by a single goal, with a 4-0 loss to Duke last week as the only exception.
For example, Sunday's loss came in the last 45 seconds of play when Columbia's Tommy McMenemy connected with the back of the net behind Dartmouth keeper Scott Feighner '06, this has happened once before against Ivy League competition as well, making for two gut-wrenching losses.
This tragic tale has rung all too clear, as in every game Dartmouth has outshot its opponents, and has often been the first team to score, as was the case on Sunday. Despite the string of losses, the players all seem to have a fierce competitive attitude that shows the true heart of the team.
It is evident that their Ivy League Championship and even post season chances are pretty slim considering that they are 0-4 and at the bottom of the League right now, but their hopes remain extremely high. Leading scorer Rob Daly '04 commented on their situation with the Ivy League by stating, "I would like to say yes [to winning an Ivy League championship], but I don't think so. I believe there are hopes of a comeback for post season play. If we didn't believe, we wouldn't be playing.
"I feel that a few wins will get us on track and might push us into the NCAAs. That's up to the tournament committee. We just focus on each game. We are not looking ahead."
Captain Matt LaBarre '04 added, "I believe if we continue to believe in one another, and work for one another, the results will take care of themselves in the next five games."
Another thing that has plagued the team is the amount of injuries that they have been forced to endure. Key losses to strong impact players such as Tom Billings '03, Scott Darci '05, and Pete Savidis '05 have really stung the team, as the trio provided serious experience and wisdom. But, it also allowed other players to shine, as LaBarre noted, "The essence of a team is having the ability for guys to come in, learn new roles, and carry out the tough mentality and competitiveness nature that defines Dartmouth soccer. I think the guys who have stepped up have done superbly this season."
It's this attitude that will gain the team momentum for the remainder of the season, and into the post season. They are not letting their confidence go down due to a few games where bad luck and a few calls have shifted the match away from Dartmouth. In the perspective of things, there is still a long way to go, and 6 unlucky games will not affect what they have done in the past or how their season is going now.
This is even being reflected to the freshmen of the team, as goalkeeper Rowan Anders '07 said, "I feel the season is going well. We have proved that we could win games with our outstanding start and have pulled together as a team these past weeks. Although all our results are ultimately our doing, I feel that we have had some bad luck this season. The team has always given a great effort and it is inevitable that we will be rewarded."
There are a few things that many of the players will try to focus on during the remainder of the season, but no drastic changes are going to be made. It is evident that these guys gel well together and have all performed in their own ways that have led to a positive outcome on the field. Tactically, they will try to focus on putting opponents away earlier in the game to ensure no repeats of the last-minute of play losses that are always frustrating to deal with. LaBarre adds to what will be focused on by remarking, "The little things such as keeping tight marks and being able to outplay teams in the final third have been some of our problems in putting together a complete performance."
Let's face it, it isn't over. It won't be over until the final whistle of play during their final game of the season. A turn around is expected for the latter part of the season, and all it takes is one win to get this team back on schedule. Hopefully their tenacity to face adversary will shine through during the remaining four games on their regular season schedule. However, their luck must come now, to pull them to a hopeful 8-7-2 end of season finish, which will give them good standing at NCAA post season chances.