Women’s soccer falls in OT heartbreaker
The women’s soccer team fell to Princeton University 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night, following a battle of stout defenses and high-pressure forward lines on both sides. Unbeaten in its last eight games, the Big Green — now 7-2-2 and 0-1-1 Ivy — had not lost a game on their home turf of Burnham Field since Oct. 1, 2012 when Pepperdine took a 1-0 victory in double overtime. Princeton now sits tied with Harvard University atop the Ivy League standings with a 2-0 conference record, as the Big Green slips to a three-way tie for fifth.
The match, Jill Dayneka ’16 said, was clearly not result that the team was looking for, but she said she thinks there is a lot that the team can learn from the loss. Particularly as a senior, she said, such a narrow loss decided in overtime was “brutal.”
“It feels awful, and I know that I never, ever want to give a team that opportunity against us again,” Dayneka said. “And I think that’s generally the way that we’re feeling so we know we just want to be all in every chance we get.”
The game started out slowly with Dartmouth controlling the pace of the action. Ten minutes into play, though, the Tigers attack — averaging 2.5 goals per game this season — started making things happen.
Princeton freshman Mimi Asom muscled her way past defenders to take a shot that Dartmouth was able to prevent from reaching net. Over the next three minutes, the Princeton attack proved relentless. After two shots on goal in a span of 30 seconds, the Tigers broke the Big Green defense. Asom tracked down a cross dropped perfectly in the box and took a shot on her first touch that skidded right past the reach of goalkeeper Casey Cousineau ’17, putting Princeton up 1-0 early on.
The Big Green fought back to overtake the Tigers before the end of the first half. With 18 minutes left in the first, Brittany Champagne ’18 curled a corner into the box, and Dayneka rose above the Princeton defense to head the ball into the net for her first collegiate goal, leveling the game at 1-1. Sixteen minutes later on an almost identical set piece, Champagne and Dayneka connected for another corner kick goal. Once again Dayneka fought her way through a sea of orange to send the ball off her head into the net.
“That’s really been the mindset that this season — we need to be all in for every rep, and we responded so strong,” Dayneka said. “We had the ball, we were getting chances and it was just a matter of time who was going to get on it. If I wasn’t there, they wanted it, they were hungry and that’s really the mentality that is key for us.”
Yet the second half had just begun when Asom attacked again, marking an unassisted tally to tie the score. Toe-poking the ball through the feet of her defender, she once again placed the ball around the sliding Cousineau.
The rest of the half remained scoreless, but Cousineau was tested on several occasions, marking six saves on 17 Princeton shots that game. With the score tied at 2-2 after 90 minutes of play, the two teams headed into overtime.
Competing for the critical three conference points, Princeton notched the win less than five minutes into overtime. The Tigers earned a free kick near the midline, and Princeton senior Emily Sura sent the ball toward the 18, where Tigers sophomore Mikaela Symanovich headed it left across the box. Princeton sophomore Natalie Larkin was positioned in the center of the box and — with a step toward the six — headed it back across the goal and into the net for the game-winning goal.
“It was a long ball in, headed across the face of the goal and then just put right back, no time to react,” Cousineau said. “With so much commotion in the box, its really hard to track the runners, track the ball, and I think that’s where we missed our opportunity.”
Princeton had not scored three times in Hanover since 1983.
“This has definitely been our toughest game as a back line, just in terms of our performance and also dealing with a couple different threats at once,” Dayneka said. “I thought they were a pretty fluid team attacking wise and showed us a bunch of different looks that we had to respond to.”
Players and coaches agreed that the defense will have to regroup for its next matchup and make efforts to play as a cohesive line, backing each other up so that one mistake does not lead to others.
“I thought we created some chances,” Rainey said. “The game went back and forth. I can’t fault our effort. As we get this far in the season, it probably becomes ‘Who’s better in the 18s on the evening?’ and like I said they just made one more play offensively than we did defensively tonight.”
Amongst the notes of pride were the two set-piece tallies, as Dartmouth has been working hard to improve that part of its game. The Big Green had an 8-4 corner kicks advantage over Princeton for the night.
“Those were two really good goals,” Rainey said. “Now they’re on film and people will be able to see them so now we’ll have to be that much better if we want to continue to have some success with those reps.”
Dartmouth will hit the road during Homecoming weekend and will next face Yale University this Saturday. The players agreed that they would remember this game when they face Yale in Connecticut.
“As we talked in the circle immediately after the game, we had a pit our stomach,” Cousineau said. “We hear them celebrating — we hate that. It honestly is like nails on chalkboard. So we let that fire us up. We don’t let only that fire us up. We have to celebrate our successes this game and we have to celebrate what makes us special, and going into Yale that’s what we will do.”
With a loss and a tie, the women’s hopes for the season were more measured, but still confident.
“It’s always a toss-up, and it’s hard when you get an ‘L’ and you have to hope that [the team you lost to] also gets an ‘L,’ but honestly I’ve very proud of this team and I think we can do very well in the Ivies,” Cousineau said.