Sacred Heart ends Big Green’s unbeaten streak in OT

by Alexander Agadjanian | 10/1/14 5:23pm

Following an impressive five-game unbeaten streak, the women’s soccer team fell to Sacred Heart University on the road Tuesday night 1-0 in overtime. Despite faltering in its fourth overtime game of the year, the Big Green has demonstrated offensive potential, and players remain hopeful heading into Saturday’s Ivy League opener.

To commence the season, Dartmouth (3-3-2, 0-0-1 Ivy) made an unusual trek to the Northwest, participating in the Husky/Nike Invitational in Seattle. The trip was the Big Green’s first to the West Coast since 2010. Although the team lost both its games, head coach Ron Rainey said these early challenges strengthened his team, showing what the players did well and what they needed to improve on.

Lucielle Kozlov ’16, who leads with four goals, said the team returned to work on skills they noticed were lacking and ultimately benefited from it.

Upon returning to Hanover, the Big Green squared off against three out-of-conference opponents in the comfortable confines of Burnham Field. Seeking to gain momentum, Dartmouth proceeded to rattle off a 2-0-1 tally during this three-game homestand.

The first in this set of games resulted in a scoreless draw against the University of Albany, a match in which the Big Green doubled up its foes in terms of shots, 22-11, but failed to capitalize on an abundance of chances.

The following four matches continued that theme, as Dartmouth consistently outshot its opponents, averaging more than 16 shots per game during the five-game unbeaten streak, converting about 10 percent of those opportunities.

Speaking about the unbeaten streak, during which the Big Green saw eight goals, Rainey pointed to the development of his team’s offensive identity as crucial to the recent success.

“We’re starting to gain some traction in how we’re going to score goals,” Rainey said. “We’ve been able to create a lot of corner kicks and set pieces, but our ability to combine has gotten better and better over these last weeks.”

Rainey said team spirit has grown, and goalkeeper Tatiana Saunders ’15 echoed the sentiment, referencing a recent interview with a Dartmouth soccer alumna.

“One thing they talked about was how much the team was like a family and how close they were, and how devoted they were to each other,” Saunders said. “I think we have that same kind of chemistry. We push each other on the field, and off the field, we all get along.”

Tuesday afternoon’s game at Sacred Heart (5-5-1, 0-0 NEC) showcased both the Big Green’s strengths and weaknesses in an overtime loss that snapped the team’s unbeaten streak. In the road battle, the Big Green outshot the Crusaders 22-11 but was unable to tally even a single goal. Thirteen of Dartmouth’s 22 shots were on target, but senior goalie Talia Schwartz turned each one away.

“We had 13 shots on goal — we have to put at least one of those in,” Saunders said. “Especially now that we’re getting into harder games, we’re going to get less chances in the Ivy League, so we really need to focus on the chances that we do get and putting them away. We do all the hard work to create the chances — it’s just the last touch of actually finishing the ball and putting it in the back of the net.”

The Big Green’s inability to net a goal sent the game to overtime, where the Pioneers were able to strike for a sudden-death win.

In the 95th minute, a foul call against the Big Green gave Sacred Heart a chance to end the game. Senior Jillian Picinich sent a ball into the box where Sacred Heart star senior Kristin Verrette headed the ball home for a game-winning goal, her tenth tally of the season.

The tough ending disappointed the Big Green, especially after a close call penalty in extra time, Saunders said.

“The bus was extremely quiet on the way home, and we’re going to use that kind of anger and frustration as motivation in the next few days to prepare for Princeton this weekend,” Saunders said.

Kozlov said the Big Green still generated opportunities and controlled the pace of play.

“We’re all a little bitter about it,” Kozlov said. “But we’re still looking forward to the rest of the season and beating Princeton this weekend. We’re definitely not dreading this loss because everything was going so well and just the score was the worst part of it.”

The Big Green returns to the field on the road Saturday night against Princeton University.