Men's soccer falls in NCAA tournament with 3-0 loss

by Alexander Agadjanian | 11/23/14 5:58pm

A resurgent 2014 season came to a grinding halt for the men’s soccer team on Sunday night. Playing in the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010, the Big Green fell to host Providence College 3-0, with all three goals occurring in a span of 31 minutes in the second half.

Facing its strongest competition since September, Dartmouth (12-5-2, 5-1-1 Ivy) had to adjust. The Friars (14-4-2) came out of the gates aggressive, moving forward into attack. But the Big Green soon acclimated to the game’s flow. In the early stages, the team held a greater amount of possession and generated more offensive momentum.

Both sides fought physically — Dartmouth and Providence tallied six and five fouls in the first half, respectively. Yet the rough style from Dartmouth seemed to disconcert and frustrate the Friars. Providence only had three first-half shots, compared to eight in last week’s Big East title game against Xavier University.

The Friars had the match’s first dangerous opportunity in the 18th minute. A Friar attack down the right side within the goalie box followed by a ground cross created a scrum in front of the net after the ball eluded goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland ’16. Dartmouth’s defense barely managed to clear the ball out of danger.

The offensive tide soon shifted to Dartmouth, as the Big Green’s offense took more shots and corner kicks in the first half.

The course of the match took a drastic turn in the following 45 minutes of action. A mere three minutes into the second half, excellent ball movement among Friar players around the Dartmouth goal paved the way for the opening score. Redshirt junior Jeff Kilday received a pass on the right side and swung a ground cross across the pitch. The ball bypassed four flat-footed Dartmouth players in the middle of the box to reach sophomore midfielder Julian Gressel, who advanced toward the right goalpost and easily tapped the ball into the net in the 48th minute.

Trailing for the first time in seven games, the Big Green accelerated its offensive pressure with a perceptible urgency. In the 51st minute, a corner kick found Nick Rooney ’15, who headed the ball to fellow defender Wyatt Omsberg ’18. Omsberg’s headed shot toward frame was deflected by a Friar defender.

Alex Adelabu '15, whose 10 goals for the Big Green this season included the first-round game winner, was held to one shot against the Friars.

Unable to puncture the Providence defense, Dartmouth became more exasperated as the second half progressed, showing signs of restlessness and committing petty fouls.Since the Big Green pushed more players forward and could not maintain possession, Dartmouth suffered several dangerous counterattacks by Providence.

In the 56th minute, the Friars had a numbers advantage pushing back toward the Big Green net. Senior defender Thomas Ballenthin paced down the left sideline and sent a ground pass ahead to sophomore Dominik Machado. The midfielder beat Dartmouth defender Nick Rooney to the through ball and slid the ball underneath Cleveland’s hands.

As the Big Green continued to thrust men on the offensive, another counterattack provided the coup de grace to put Dartmouth away. In the 79th minute, Cleveland came out of his goal and far past the goalie box to clear a lurking through ball. Yet the goalie misgauged the ball, and the error left an open net for Providence’s Machado to score his second goal of the match.

By the end of the contest, Dartmouth maintained a 15-12 shot total edge over its counterpart. But the Big Green could not overcome a more technically sound and defensively stringent Providence squad.

The Big Green finish the season as Ivy League champions, sharing the honor with Princeton University. In 2011, Dartmouth and Brown University shared the championship title.