Men's soccer's new faces bring desired result in win over UVM
The Dartmouth's men's soccer team got just the momentum it needed ahead of Sunday's decisive Ivy League matchup against Harvard by beating regional opponent University of Vermont (8-6-4) 2-1 in Burlington.
Big Green head coach Jeff Cook had extra cause for celebration, as a combination of players who rarely had a chance to play or start this season achieved the victory. Dani Rothenberg '09 and Derek Stenguist '10 scored their first collegiate goals in the win.
Cook decided to rest most of his starting players before the Harvard game, as Peter Savidis '06, Mark Limpert '07 and Tom Lobben '08 provided experience and leadership for the younger players in the starting line-up.
The lack of experience cost the Big Green (6-6-4, 3-1-1) in the opening minutes of the game, when the team conceded after a defensive mistake.
Dartmouth goalkeeper Sean Milligan blocked a shot by Catamounts back Jordan Crasilneck, which ended up in the path of Vermont striker Chris Scherbel. Scherbel coolly tapped the ball into the back of the net and opened scoring for the Catamounts from five yards out.
However, the Big Green players responded shortly before halftime, capitalizing on one of their two shots on goal in the period. Rothenberg pressured the UVM defense and forced a turnover on the right side of the Dartmouth attack. The sophomore forward picked up the ball and fired a shot that flew past the Catamounts' goalkeeper Kyle Tufts from 10 yards out for the equalizer. The goal was Rothenberg's first collegiate goal.
The second half started off slowly for both squads as both coaches rotated players on the field. By the end of the game, 16 Big Green players took the field while 21 players saw action for the Catamounts.
Dartmouth managed one more goal in the 75th minute. Nick Christman was the architect behind Dartmouth's game-winning goal. The Big Green junior made a typical run on the left wing, passed a Vermont defender and drove the ball into the area from an angle. Several Catamount defenders were slow to react and left the ball to the opportunistic Stenquist, who finished from close range. The game-winner was Stenquist's first collegiate goal. The rookie midfielder has started four games this season and saw action in 14 games.
Unlike its previous games this season, Dartmouth was outshot 11-4 but the players were efficient in front of goal and managed to capitalize on their chances.
"This was a tremendous win for us in terms of keeping the momentum going before a big game on Sunday," Cook said. "The group of players we had out there today did awfully well, and it's always nice to come from behind and win."
Savidis, who has been instrumental in providing guidance for the strong freshman class this year, echoed Cook's sentiment.
"Granted, it isn't as important as the game on Sunday, it was still a very important game," Savidis said. "It helps our regional standings and moves our record to .500. It puts us on the streak that we need to keep winning and coming from behind to win a game is also a huge boost."
Savidis was also impressed by the performance of the younger players, who have had an immediate impact on the team this season.
"I definitely think they have a lot of potential. They are a key aspect to the team now and will be the future of Dartmouth soccer. In the past we have accomplished many goals and I look forward to reading about and hearing of the continued success of the program," said Savidis.
The Big Green still has a chance to retain last year's crown. However, the men in green must win its remaining two Ancient Eight games against Harvard and Cornell and hope that the University of Pennsylvania drops a match against Brown or Princeton.
Dartmouth will be back in action on Sunday, when it hosts Ivy League leader Harvard for a 1:30 p.m. kick-off.