Women's soccer denied NCAA bid

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 11/5/12 11:00pm

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The women's soccer team went 13-4 (6-1 Ivy) in 2012, a nine-win improvement from last season.
by Tracy Wang and Tracy Wang / The Dartmouth

According to the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index rankings released yesterday, the Big Green ranked 37th in the country. RPI ranks teams based on win-loss records and strength of schedule. Several teams ranked behind Dartmouth in the RPI garnered at-large bids to the tournament, including Washington State University (42nd), Colorado College (46th) and California State University, Long Beach (40th). Dartmouth held its own at a national level this season, playing three ranked teams closely despite losing all three games. The Big Green lost to No. 9 University of Central Florida, 2-0, before falling to No. 21 Rutgers University, 2-1, and to No. 20 Pepperdine University, 1-0, in extra time.

The Big Green finished second in the Ivy League with a record of 6-1, suffering its only loss to Ivy League champion Princeton University. Princeton (13-3-1, 7-0 Ivy) finished the season ranked 41st in the RPI but was granted an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the Ivy League. Princeton was the only Ivy League team to make the tournament and is slated to face West Virginia University in the first round on Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va.

Stanford University, Brigham Young University, Pennsylvania State University and Florida State University all secured No. 1 seeds in the tournament. Defending champion No. 1 Stanford (17-1-1, 11-0 Pac-12) enters as the favorite after going undefeated in conference play for the fourth consecutive year.

Last year, Theresa Romagnolo began her first season as Dartmouth's coach and led the team to a 4-12 record, with the Big Green finishing sixth in the Ivy League. However, six of the team's 12 losses were by one goal, and Dartmouth seemed to improve as the season progressed. This year, the Big Green began the season 2-2 before winning 11 of its last 13 games.

Romagnolo credited Dartmouth's success this year to the dedication of her players.

"If we gave them a game plan, they gave 100 percent to try and implement what we asked," Romagnolo said. "There's not one game I can look back on and say, Oh, we didn't show up for that.' They really brought it every day."

Romagnolo said she emphasized an attacking mentality with this year's team. Dartmouth has boasted a balanced attack with 11 Big Green players scoring goals this season. Emma Brush '13 led Dartmouth with 19 points from seven goals and five assists. Chrissy Lozier '14 contributed eight goals for 16 points, while Marina Moschitto '14 and Tasha Wilkins '15 each finished with 11 points.

Moschitto said that the Big Green focused on taking the ball wide and getting crosses into the opposing team's penalty area.

"We've grown as a team, always taking the ball outside and crossing it in," Moschitto said. "It's become so natural."

Dartmouth's defense has also been a large part of the team's success. Led by captain Aurelia Solomon '13, the Big Green back line underwent many changes throughout the season due to injuries, but players always seemed to step up to make big stops in games.

Tatiana Saunders '15 started all 17 games for Dartmouth in goal and finished the season with seven shutouts, 60 saves and only 12 goals against for a save percentage of .833. While the Big Green averaged 2.00 goals per game, its opponents averaged just 0.76 goals per game. Dartmouth also outshot opponents on average, 17.4 to 9.6.

Romagnolo said that the Big Green took more risks this year.

"In soccer, you've got to shoot a lot of times to score," Romagnolo said. "People were going one-on-one a lot and were just excited about taking shots."

Next year, the Big Green will lose six seniors, including captains Brush, Solomon and Kim Rose '13. Although they have big shoes to fill, Dartmouth's young players have shown promise. Corey Delaney '16 contributed nine points to the Big Green this year with two goals and five assists and Lucielle Kozlov '16 recorded two goals and two assists for six points.

"Our seniors brought great intensity to the program," Romagnolo said. "They set the standard for what we can achieve both on and off the field."