Men's soccer falls to Wildcats, 3-0
Dartmouth played an intense, physically demanding game against Harvard University last Saturday, and was in dire need of recovery time before its game against first-place Cornell University this weekend. Many regular starters did not play against UNH, allowing several less experienced players to take the field.
"We had a really tough game against Harvard in terms of the weather and physically," co-captain Nick Pappas '12 said. "We knew UNH would be physical, and with Cornell coming up, the coaches decided to give the older guys rest and the younger guys experience."
The team got off to a good start in the first half, with Pat Murray '14 recording the game's first shot in the second minute and Big Green defense holding UNH to only four shots in the period. The team was unable to capitalize offensively after Murray's shot, however, taking only two more shots before the break.
The Big Green coaching staff encouraged players to increase offensive pressure during the team's halftime discussion.
"We were very positive with the team," head coach Jeff Cook said. "We just told them to be a little more patient and talked about creating better scoring opportunities."
Dartmouth recorded four corner kicks and three shots within the first 15 minutes of the second half. In the 62nd minute, however, UNH junior Charlie Roche slipped the ball past backup goalkeeper Sean Donovan '13. The Big Green failed to recover after the goal.
"The guys that came in did really well in the first half, but I think fatigue may have been an issue in the second half," Pappas said. "The first goal definitely changed the game a bit."
Dartmouth was unable to get another shot off until the 81st minute of play, when the team was already trailing by three goals.
Pappas said that although team members were disappointed with the result, they took several positives from the match.
"Even though we gave up goals in the second half, going forward we know we have guys that can step up," co-captain Lucky Mkosana '12 said. "I was impressed with the performance in the first half, and this shows how strong of a team we are when we need each other."
The Big Green will now focus on its upcoming game against Cornell (8-1-5, 3-0-2 Ivy), Dartmouth's last home game of the season. If the team is to contend for a League Championship, the Big Green must defeat the League front-runner on Saturday.
"The season basically comes down to the games against Cornell and [Brown University]," Pappas said. "We're really excited about Cornell, it's actually senior night. We're really confident about where we are as a team and hopefully a win on Saturday will give us confidence for the game against Brown."
Mkosana stressed the importance of finding the "right mentality" before the game.
"We just have to keep our heads straight and try to work on our cohesion as a unit and finishing," Mkosana said.
Cook said that the support the team has received is a major reason for its success. He added that at this point in the season, there are not many technical game changes that Dartmouth could make.
"I think we have the best fans in the Ivy League by a mile," Cook said. "We really appreciate all the support we receive it really makes a difference. Our field has been the best place to play in the Ivy League, so we hope people come out and support us in our last home game Saturday."
A pair of wins against Cornell on Saturday and Brown on Nov. 12 would guarantee the Big Green the League title.
"If we beat both teams, we don't have to wait for anybody else's results," Cook said. "We have a lot of work to do to take advantage of this."
Dartmouth plays Cornell in Hanover on Saturday at 5 p.m.