Dartmouth women's soccer fell to Yale (12-3-1, 4-1-1 Ivy) 2-1 on Wednesday in New Haven. The loss, only the fourth of a successful season, brought the team's record to 11-4-1 (4-2, Ivy) as they dropped out of first place, overtaken by the Bulldogs. With the end of the season only a game away, Dartmouth will need a victory over Cornell and a Yale loss to Brown to win the Ivy championship.
After a season long chase to reach the top of the Ivy League, Dartmouth finally climbed out of second place last Saturday when they beat Harvard and Yale succumbed to Columbia on the same day. The Big Green was in first place, however, for only half a week. Losing in their first chance to defend their spot was no doubt a big disappointment.
"We were really excited for the game," co-captain Megan Wijas '06 said. "We felt we had the upper hand going into it. I am not exactly sure what went wrong. I don't think it was a lack of intensity, at least on an individual level. Individually we were all working very hard but on a whole it seemed like Yale played through us."
The game was played relatively evenly between the two sides. Dartmouth, which has been emphasizing an increase in shot attempts, totaled 11 while Yale recorded 12. Seven of Yale's shots were on goal to Dartmouth's six.
"This was the first game in a while where I had a fair amount of work," goalkeeper Amanda Webb '08 said. "Of course, as a keeper, you want to come away with a clean sheet, but it just doesn't always happen that way."
This was the first time since their game against Princeton that Dartmouth had been matched in shots on goal. Not coincidentally, Dartmouth's last loss was also against Princeton.
"The game was like pinball, it was so difficult to find feet and it was just an all-out battle," Sarah Johnson '07 said. "We played with Yale, they just happened to score off two set pieces, and we never came back to tie. It was a very frustrating game."
Another trend for the Big Green lately has been their lack of scoring in the first half. Coming into the game against Yale, Dartmouth had scored 11 of its last 12 goals in the second half.
"It is simply about a sense of urgency. Obviously it would be nice to score in the first half, but scoring in the second it better than not scoring at all," Wijas added. "We need to find some way to transfer that sense of urgency to the first half."
With the game still scoreless and play going back and forth, Dartmouth committed a mortal penalty in the 68th minute that allowed Yale's Christina Huang to take a free kick. Huang's cross was put on goal by Laurel Karnes, but after Dartmouth goalie Amanda Webb '08 stopped the shot, Crysti Howser put the rebound in the back of the net and gave Yale the first lead of the game.
Less than four minutes later, Dartmouth gave Huang another chance at a free kick. The second time around she capitalized by placing the direct kick from 25 yards out past the reach of Webb.
"Set pieces in general are tough to defend," Webb said. "We work on them in practice, but you can never practice exactly what the other team is going to do. They executed those two set plays well and we didn't defend the way we needed to and that's why those two goals were scored."
Down two scores, the Big Green tried to climb out of the hole. With a sense of urgency, Dartmouth increased pressure on the Bulldogs and was able to tally a goal in the 78th minute. Roxy Davis '07 crossed the ball to Monica Martin de Bustamante '08, who headed it in to bring Dartmouth within one.
Their effort, unfortunately, proved to be too little too late. Yale controlled the ball for the final minutes and walked off the field with a win and first place in the Ivy League. While it is still possible for Dartmouth to win the Ivies, the team will have to depend on 5-9-2 Brown to overtake Yale.
Despite their seemingly limited chances, the team has stayed optimistic. "Aside from us doing our job against Cornell, it's out of our hands because we have to depend on Brown to beat Yale this Saturday," Webb said. "Anything can happen in the Ivy though. There have been some major upsets throughout the season so we will just do what we need to do on Sunday and see what happens."
The game against Cornell could also prove to be a decisive factor in the team's bid for an NCAA tournament appearance. Dartmouth's chances appear solid for acquiring an at-large bid, as they were ranked 25th in the country before Wednesday's match, but a loss to Cornell could jeopardize that sense of security.
"I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but I don't think we can drop off that far as to not make it as one of the top 64 teams that makes it to the tournament," Emily Tracy '07 said. "We have to win against Cornell though to be sure."