Men’s soccer comes back to beat Vermont 2-1

by Alex Brown | 10/8/15 6:01pm

Thanks to a strong team effort, the men’s soccer team (5-3-1, 1-0 Ivy) completed an unlikely comeback to beat the University of Vermont (5-5-1, 0-1 America East) in a non-conference matchup with a final score of 2-1. The Big Green, which only started four players from its typical starting lineup, showed many different looks throughout the game until ultimately finding a group that scored two goals in the last three minutes of play.

After allowing a goal in the 74th minute off a set piece, the Big Green team realized that it needed to pick up its intensity if it was going to earn a win, or much less a draw, head coach Chad Riley said. Riley claimed that moment as the key turning point of the match for the Big Green offense.

“To be honest with you, when [Vermont] scored their goal, I thought we really woke up and realized that we needed a little bit more urgency and pressure on the ball and to do more with our chances in the attacking third,” Riley said. “I think the guys responded fantastically.”

In the waning minutes of the game, the Dartmouth team picked up its offensive intensity, firing off two shots and securing two corner kicks in the 15 minutes following the Catamount goal. With the second of those aforementioned corner kicks, Matt Greer ’18 sent a ball to the middle of the box where Matt Danilack ’18 leapt over the Vermont defenders and buried the ball into the back of the net for the equalizing score in the 88th minute.

While the Dartmouth side could have settled for a draw, the team looked hungry to score another goal. Off of a strong defensive clearance, Greer had a breakaway opportunity only one minute after the last Big Green goal. Greer cleverly avoided a sliding Catamount defender, which left him with a one-on-one matchup with the Vermont goalie Greg Walton. Greer got the better of his opponent, curling the ball to the right of the goalie with exactly one minute left in the game.

While the offense came alive in the last few minutes of the game, the Big Green defense put on a great showing all night long. The team kept the first half of the game scoreless and came up with five blocked shots to help out goalkeeper James Hickok ’17. One key pivotal defensive stop came in the 54th minute when Ricardo Gomez ’17 came running in to clear a shot from Vermont attacker Jaime Miralles that had already passed the Dartmouth goalkeeper.

Defenseman Emory Orr ’16 offered high praise for his fellow defenders.

“We knew going in that they were going to bring a lot of pace up top, and they were going to have some tricky guys who were going to try to threaten in behind, but it really is a team effort,” Orr said. “Our back four did an incredible job of holding the line and keeping everything organized. I really attribute [controlling Vermont’s forwards] to the midfields and backs. They did a great job.”

After a big conference game this past Saturday against Princeton University, the Big Green could have been prone to a letdown game against a non-conference foe. Riley recognized that concern, but felt confident in his team’s ability to put on a strong showing in a midweek game.

“They did a pretty good job of [re-shifting focus],” Riley said. “I think [playing midweek] is a challenge because you’ve gone to class and exams are starting, so I give them a lot of credit to come out and play.”

One common sentiment echoed by the Big Green soccer players and coaches is the sense of camaraderie on this team as a whole and the belief that every player on the team can come in and make an impact. Danilack raved about the team depth and effort, citing it as a source of confidence that helped him put away his goal.

“We’ve got 29 guys who can contribute. Everyone on the team can play, so I was confident with the team on the field, and then when I came in, I was just trying to do my job,” Danilack said. “Greer had a great ball on the corner, and I was able to head it in.”

In a similar vein, Riley shared that his team has a mantra that his team created in order to identify the core values that they want to uphold throughout the season.

“‘Brotherhood, sacrifice and legacy.’ That’s the motto the guys came up with in some of the events we did with [assistant athletics director for leadership Steven] Spaulding, and I think that’s something that we really have,” Riley said. “We’re always going to work hard. We’ve got a very tight-knit group. We’ve got guys that work very hard every day in training and whenever their number is called, they’re ready to step in and perform.”

Dartmouth will shift back into Ivy League play this Saturday afternoon when they take on the Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, at 4 p.m.