Men’s soccer beats Cornell to claim Ivy League title

by Ray Lu | 11/9/15 6:30pm

The men’s soccer team (11-4-1, 6-0 Ivy) clinched the 2015 Ivy League Championship with an emphatic 2-0 win against Cornell University (4-11-1, 2-4 Ivy) this past Saturday.

“We knew what we had to do to win the game,” co-captain Stefan Cleveland ’16 said. “It was a big occasion for us, a big night — the last regular season home game, senior night and an incredible opportunity ahead of us [to win the Ivy League title].”

Dartmouth is the first Ivy League school to win back-to-back men’s soccer titles since the Big Green last accomplished the feat in 2004 and 2005. The title will be Dartmouth’s fourth outright championship and 11th overall since it first took the title in 1964.

“We were working hard the whole game, had most of the possession of the ball and the crowd was amazing,” Justin Donawa ’19 said. “There were a lot of people, and we really appreciated that.”

Dartmouth found the back of the net once in each half. Alberto Gorini ’16 scored his first goal of the season in the 31st minute after a cross from Donawa skipped past one Dartmouth attacker and fell at Gorini’s feet. The midfielder then slotted the ball across Big Red keeper Mitchell Meyer and into the bottom right corner of the net.

“I was very happy to actually get that assist. Tyler Dowse [’18] played a really, really good ball down the line, and I just used my pace like [head coach Chad] Riley tells me to do and got it across,” Donawa said. “[The coaches] told us that if you get crosses in the box then you will get chances and the back post will be open. That’s exactly what happened when we got the goal.”

The assist was Donawa’s second in his last three games and third of the season. Along with the assists, the freshman tallied the game-winning goal against Columbia University on Oct. 25. Donawa said that his goal this season was to be an impact player and help the team’s performance in a positive way.

“I missed nine games at the beginning of the season with an ankle injury, so getting back into it was a little bit hard, but I think the coaches gave me a chance to get back onto the field and see what I’m capable of and I think I’ve shown good progress,” Donawa said.

The second Big Green goal started with a throw-in to co-captain Eric Jayne ’15 in the 56th minute. Jayne passed the ball to Gorini, who fed Amadu Kunateh ’19 in the middle of the field. One of the team’s co-leading goal scorers, Kunateh made a run up the middle, drawing multiple defenders before finding an open Jayne at the top of the box. The co-captain took the shot from a distance, which rattled off the crossbar and just inside the goal line for the tally. The goal was Jayne’s second of the season.

“I had a bit of space. I wasn’t one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but their defenders didn’t close out on me very well,” Jayne said. “As soon as [Kunateh] played me the ball I knew I could hit it. It was one of the best shots I’ve ever hit to be honest. It was pretty lucky that it went in off the keeper as well, but I was really happy with that one.”

While the Big Red failed to get on the board, the team provided a strong offensive challenge to Dartmouth for much of the game. The Big Green was outshot by its opponents 14-11 and had two corner kicks to Cornell’s three.

Another shutout by Cleveland preserved the Big Green lead, and the goalie now has eight shutouts on the season in just 11 appearances. Sean Milligan ’09 holds the record for most shutouts in a season with nine across 18 games with a 0.54 goals allowed average.

With one game left in the regular season and an upcoming postseason slate, Cleveland has an opportunity to match or surpass Milligan’s mark, as Cleveland has posted a 0.53 goals allowed average this season. In Ivy League play, the Big Green has allowed just one goal all year, far ahead of the two other teams tied for second with five goals allowed. Throughout the entire season, the Big Green has allowed only 10 goals.

“To be honest, the stats reflect nicely on me, but I owe it to the defense,” Cleveland said. “The defense has been incredible. The saves I’ve had to make haven’t been tough at all. The defense has done a great job of keeping shots at a distance and making my job very easy for me.”

Despite concerns about the loss of Alex Adelabu ’15 and the extraordinary 2015 class, this year’s team has already matched last season’s win total. The team’s final game marks the chance to win 12 games in the regular season for the first time since 2007.

This Saturday, Oct. 14, Dartmouth will wrap up its regular season with a game against Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. After the matchup against Brown, Dartmouth will begin preparation for the NCAA Tournament.