Big Green soccer plays to scoreless tie with Vermont
Dartmouth men's soccer shut out 18th-ranked Vermont at Chase Field on Wednesday yet failed to extend its five-game winning streak. Vermont (9-4-1) played some defense of its own, shutting out Dartmouth as well and playing to a 0-0 tie. The Big Green is unbeaten in its last nine games and moves to 6-1-4 on the season, 2-0-0 in the Ivy, propelling the squad to the No. 23 spot in the latest College Soccer News national poll.
The Big Green players knew coming into the game that they were up against tough opposition. Vermont was coming off a 4-0 trashing of University of Maryland Baltimore County, yet Dartmouth remained confident as defensive leader Lucas Richardson '07 and goalkeeper Rowan Anders '07 were preparing for a fourth consecutive shutout.
Both teams began the game cautiously. Even though Dartmouth was fronting their traditional 4-4-1-1 formation, flowing into 4-4-2 on the attack, the emphasis was put on strength from the back rather than pushing for an early score. Duly, the game's first shot on goal came in the 25th minute. Dartmouth midfielder Darnell Nance '06 controlled the ball after a pass from the right wing and advanced into the penalty area only to be denied by Catamounts keeper Tom Critz.
The accuracy of each team's shooting remained suspect throughout the second half and left both Anders and Critz with little work to do. However, the Catamounts managed to create two dangerous opportunities in the frame. Ten minutes after the restart, Vermont earned a corner on the left side of Anders' goal. The ball was crossed into the penalty area, where junior back Corey Bronner met it with a mighty header, only to see his effort cleared from the goal line by the Big Green defense. Vermont's next chance came in the 77th minute, when junior midfielder Patrick Wyld was allowed to progress on the right side, surging into the penalty area. His blast was deflected skillfully by Anders, but the rebound deflected to the head of Panos Georgiadis. The unsuspecting sophomore forward found himself facing an empty net less than five yards away, but headed the ball well over the bar.
Until the end of the half, Ivy League and ECAC Player of the Week Lucas Richardson masterfully orchestrated the Dartmouth defense and did not allow the Catamounts to pose a serious challenge for Anders, taking the game into overtime. "I have become more confident into the role of a defensive leader," Richardson said. "Losing Oli (Harker-Smith '05) was a big deal, because he was a natural leader. But now I feel that we are all playing better in the back," added the Dartmouth junior.
Anders reiterated Richardson's feelings after the game. "The defense has been doing a great job," he said. "I really haven't had to make many saves." Anders now touts an ever-impressive 0.67 goals against average, and has only allowed one goal for every 135 minutes of play thus far.
Only 3:48 into overtime, Mike Ordonez '08 nearly gave the Catamounts a game-winning advantage. The Dartmouth midfielder reacted physically to a remark from a Vermont player. This resulted in a scuffle, in which Ordonez himself was pushed to the ground by Patrick Wyld. As a result, the Dartmouth sophomore was sent off, while Wyld received a yellow card.
"I have to look at the tape, but anytime you raise your hand in soccer, you are in danger of being sent off. Anything into the face is an automatic red card in world soccer, but I still don't know how it actually happened," said Dartmouth head coach Jeffrey Cook.
Despite being a man down, the Big Green managed to keep the Catamounts away from Anders' goal until the very end of both overtime periods, and even had a close call of its own. In the last minute of the second overtime, Matt Carroll '09 advanced on the right and crossed the ball into the area, to the far post. It seemed like it was heading out of bounds until senior co-captain P.J. Scheufele '06 showed a spark of creative genius and struck the ball towards the goal with a bicycle kick. Critz, however, was well positioned once again and managed to pull off a one-handed save to keep the ball out of the goal and the game tied.
"I think we're creating the chances, but not taking advantage of them," Cook said after the game. The Big Green managed to fire 16 shots in the game, but only three of them were on goal. "That puts additional pressure on the entire team, because you feel that if you conceive a goal, it's going to be hard to get the game back," he added.
Dartmouth players are back in action on Saturday, October 15, when they travel to Philadelphia to face nationally ranked Penn (7-3-0 overall, 1-1-0 in Ivy League play). "We have to come back with a win against a quality Penn team. They are a very skillful, attacking, possession-oriented team, and we'll have to handle it well," Cook said. "We want to win; we have to get 3-0 in the Ivies," Richardson reiterated. "Penn is a great attacking team, but another shutout would be great."