Men's soccer to face St. John's in NCAA second round

by Nedko Kyuchukov | 11/21/05 6:00am

The 16th seeded Dartmouth men's soccer team followed Friday's first round NCAA games with great interest, as it was eagerly waiting to learn the name of its second round opponent. In an interesting encounter, St. John's (10-5-5) overcame Marist's (10-9-1) tough resistance with a 3-1 win. As a result St. John's will host the Big Green (10-2-5) in the second round of the tournament on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

It took the Red Storm 57 minutes to open the score in front of a raucous crowd of more than 1,000, but, Marist managed to equalize only five minutes later. Steven Old converted a penalty in the 66th minute, while Matt Groenwald secured the win for St. John's in the 75th, making it 3-1.

This year marks St. John's 14th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, which gives the team the advantage of experience over the Big Green. Dartmouth will be making its second consecutive appearance in the tournament and ninth overall. Over the years, the Big Green has compiled a 4-7-2 overall record in the tournament, facing the Red Storm once before in a 1992 NCAA encounter in which Dartmouth came out victorious after a narrow 1-0 win in Hanover. In 2004, the Big Green also earned an automatic NCAA berth as Ivy League champions, but went out of the tournament in the first round. After a 2-2 draw against Boston University in regulation time, the Dartmouth players were short on luck as they lost 4-3 on penalty kicks to the Terriers.

Senior midfielder Groenwald will be the biggest threat for the Big Green defense, as he scored his team-leading sixth goal on Friday. He currently has 16 points on the season and is one of his team's most experienced players. His career total of 150 shots puts him only one shot behind St. John's career top-10 list place. The creative spark in the Red Storm midfield is provided by Swedish senior Sebastian Alvarado-Ralph, who currently leads the team with five assists and is second in points with 13.

Elsewhere in the NCAA tournament, it was mixed fortunes for Dartmouth's Ivy League co-champions Brown and Yale. Both teams took their games to overtime, but while Yale (10-4-4) lost 2-1 to Stony Brook, Brown (11-4-2) defeated Rhode Island 2-1 and advanced to the round of 32. An Ivy League match-up is still a possibility for the next round. The Bears will meet top-seeded Maryland (15-4-1) and should they win, they will play against the winner of the Dartmouth-St. John's encounter.

After sharing the 2005 Ivy League title, the Big Green and the Bears also had to share the honors of having most student athletes in the All-Ivy men's soccer selection. Rock-solid keeper Rowan Anders '07, center back Lucas Richardson '07 and veteran playmaker P.J. Scheufele '06 were amongst six Dartmouth players that were recognized. The trio earned first-team honors, while Darnell Nance '06 earned a spot on the second team. Mike Ordonez '08 and Brian Lappas '08 both received honorable mentions for their performance throughout the year.

Anders, who had a record-setting year in the Dartmouth goal, is one of two repeat performers from the 2004 All Ivy team, together with Princeton forward and 2004 Ivy League Player of the Year Darren Spicer. Anders led the Ivy League with eight shutouts, tying the Dartmouth single-season record. With a career total of 13 shutouts, he ranks fifth in Big Green history. Meanwhile, his goals against average of 0.653 ranks him 14th in the nation at the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Richardson, who is one of the top defenders in the Ivy League, earned second-team recognition in 2004. This year, he matured in the role of a defensive leader and was instrumental for the Ivy League title. Under his lead, the defense ranked 13th nationally in shutout percentage and 16th in goals against average.

Scheufele, who was a second-team selection in 2004, maturing into the role of team leader and playmaker this season and leading the Ivy League with six assists. He ranked second on the team in scoring with 10 points (2 goals, 6 assists) and was an ever-present influence as the team's co-captain.

Nance, who was a second-team selection in 2004 as well, played most of the season as an attacking midfielder in the 4-4-1-1 formation deployed by head coach Jeff Cook, and had a breakout year offensively. Even though he only managed to score a single goal in his first three seasons at Dartmouth, Nance led the team this year with six goals and one assist, a total of 13 points. His stats were good enough for fourth place in the Ivy League scoring table and fifth in the total points table.

Ordonez and Lappas both enjoyed solid sophomore seasons. The aggressive style of play of Ordonez earned him the love of the fans, while his four goals ranked him third on the team in scoring. He led the team and ranked third in the Ivy League in game-winning goals with three. Lappas was also a solid presence in midfield, providing two assists throughout the season.

Harvard forward Charles Altchek, who lead the league in almost every offensive category, earned the Player of the Year award. His 11 goals were four more than anyone else, while his 22 points were five more than the closest competitor. Brown freshman forward Scott Geppert earned the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award after an impressive first season. He was tied for first place in the League with six assists and finished fourth in points with 14 (four goals, six assists).

Dartmouth players won't have too much time to celebrate their awards, as they will have to travel to Queens, N.Y., for the second round of the NCAA tournament. Their game against St. John's will be on Tuesday, November 22 at 5:00 p.m., at Belson Stadium.