The Dartmouth men’s soccer team (7-3-1, 3-0 Ivy) extended its win streak to five games this past weekend against the University of Pennsylvania Quakers (2-8-1, 1-2 Ivy) with a 1-0 victory. Captain Stefan Cleveland ’16 recorded his sixth shutout of the season, and the Big Green outshot its opponent 27-10.
“Coming into the game, we were a little antsy after what had happened the day before, with the game getting delayed. We were just ready to play,” Cleveland said, referring to the fact that the game was postponed following multiple power outages the day before. “Also knowing that Penn was our only loss of the Ivy League last year gave us extra motivation to come out strong and try to get a goal early.”
Despite the offensive advantage, Dartmouth could not find the back of the net until the 88th minute. Matt Danilack ’18 headed in a corner kick from Justin Donawa ’19. The goal was Danilack’s third of the season.
“Justin Donawa, a freshman, put a great ball in, and I was just in the right spot,” Danilack said. “They actually didn’t mark me, so I pretty much had a free header. [I’m] just happy to get another win. We had so many chances that game, and anyone could’ve scored the winning goal.”
In his second season, Danilack has taken on a significant leadership role. After a talented class of seniors graduated this past spring, including Danilack’s brother Hugh Danilack ’15, there were questions about who would step up for the Big Green. So far this season, Danilack is one of two Dartmouth players who have started every single game. In addition, he ranks second on the team in shots on goal with six and leads the team in goals after his late header.
Penn’s freshman goalkeeper Etan Mabourakh made 10 saves in the game, which more than doubled his career total. Cleveland was pressured into just one save situation all game as Dartmouth picked up its third consecutive Ivy League win.
Dartmouth threatened from the openingwhistle, testing the Penn defense with three shots in the first 10 minutes. A couple of offside calls stopped some dangerous Dartmouth runs. The Big Green committed six offside penalties, compared to Penn’s zero.
“We started the first very well. The team was very focused against a dangerous team,” head coach Chad Riley said in a press conference. “We came out in the second half and picked up right where we left off, but with more energy and made the goalkeeper work a little harder. We kept pushing until we got that goal.”
Dartmouth has won all three of its Ivy League games by a 1-0 score. After a tough road trip to Seattle in mid-September, when Dartmouth allowed five combined goals against the University of Washington and Seattle University, the Big Green defense has let just one shot slip into the net.
“I haven’t really had to make any big-time saves, especially in the last couple of games,” Cleveland said. “I’ve had to make saves, but when the defense does so well, we’ll give the other team shots from 25, 30 yards out. If those are the only save I have to make, then we’ve got no problems.”
On the other hand, Dartmouth’s offensive game has been solid and steady, capitalizing just enough on its opportunities to get the ball in the back of the net. Long, looping passes to speedy forwards Eduvie Ikoba ’19, Amadu Kunateh ’19 and Yima Asom ’18 consistently threatened the Quaker defense. The three strikers are the top three in shots taken on the team.
Sunday’s victory was also the first game where the Big Green has avoided a booking. Before this game, Dartmouth had picked up at least one yellow or red card in every game of the season, putting the team’s personnel in some tough situations.
“Riley told us to keep our challenges in check and be as respectful as possible to referees,” Danilack said. “We’ve been struggling with them a little bit this year, so we just had to stay a little calmer, a little more composed, and it paid off.”
The Sunday afternoon matchup was originally scheduled for Saturday evening but was postponed after power outages delayed the earlier women’s game.
This weekend, Dartmouth returns to Burnham Field after two weeks on the road. The Big Green will host Columbia University at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.