After dropping back-to-back games last week, the men’s soccer team regained momentum with a win over Columbia University, 1-0 in overtime at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium on Saturday. Not only did this victory avenge the Big Green’s (8-4-1, 3-1 Ivy) 2013 loss to the Lions (5-6-1, 1-2-1 Ivy), it also places Dartmouth atop the Ivy League standings.
“It’s always good to win an Ivy League game because there isn’t a lot of room for error,” head coach Chad Riley said. “It feels good to be at the top, but we know we need to fight to keep that spot.”
The first period started evenly as both teams took turns possessing the ball while struggling to maintain control of passes in the middle third of the field. In the fourth minute of play, Alex Adelabu ’15 raced past Columbia defenders and kicked a ball into the middle of the net, but the referees determined that he kicked it out of the Lions’ goalkeeper’s hands. The game clock stopped momentarily to let an injured Columbia player, David Westlake, walk off the field before the Lions received possession of the ball.
As play continued, Columbia responded with a shot that sailed high of the net. The Big Green continued to increase its offensive intensity with shots by Matt Danilack ’18, Stefan Defregger ’15 and Gabe Stauber ’15. Although the Lions made use of their familiarity with the stadium’s turf, the Big Green’s defense responded swiftly to Columbia’s counterattacks, preventing goals off of three shots in a three-minute stretch.
However, like in last week’s game against Penn, the Big Green struggled to finish its runs, leading to another scoreless half for both teams. Dartmouth led in shots, 7-5, in the first half, and both teams’ goalies made one save.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” Adelabu said. “We had so many chances in the first half, but we just needed to remain focused.”
The Big Green attacked right out of halftime with two corner kicks by Gabe Hoffman-Johnson ’14 in the 52nd minute and shots by Adelabu and Tyler Dowse ’18 in the next two minutes. Moments later, the Lions answered with an improved offensive onslaught that began with a shot on goal by Columbia forward Francisco Agrest that goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland ’16 turned away in the 64th minute.
Riley said Cleveland played exceptionally on Saturday.
“He made timely saves that were both expected and important,” Riley said. “He remained focus during crucial moments of the game.”
Unlike previous games where the Big Green clearly dominated offensively, Columbia outshot Dartmouth, 12-9, in the second half. The men remained unshakable, though, as Cleveland saved two shots in the 73rd and 75th minutes before Nick Rooney ’15 and Jonathan Nierenberg ’18 attempted header shots that sailed just high of the goal. The period ended with a shot by Defregger that was saved by Columbia goalkeeper Kyle Jackson and a header shot by Colin Heffron ’15 that could not make it into the back of the net for a goal, sending the game to overtime.
“Before overtime, we talked about control,” Riley said. “I told the team to just keep doing what we’re doing and let the ball do the work.”
After regrouping, the team maintained its offensive pressure and did not allow the Lions to counterattack. Adelabu took a shot in the 92nd minute that sailed high of the net and followed that attempt four minutes later with a shot saved by Jackson. The breakthrough came in the 96th minute when a corner kick by Defregger sent the ball to Wyatt Omsberg ’18 who headed it past Jackson for the win. This was Omsberg’s second goal of the season and his second time securing a win in overtime.
“It felt good to score,” Omsberg said. “We knew it was important to get a result and we’re glad we did.”
With another win under its belt and only four games left in the regular season, the Big Green looks ahead to improve its record. The team will travel to Massachusetts to take on Boston College on Tuesday before returning home to face Ivy League foe Harvard University on Saturday at Burnham Field.
Both games are slated to start at 7 p.m.