Men’s soccer seizes control of Ivy League with OT win
The men’s soccer team travelled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, this Saturday to take on Harvard University at Jones Field. After 98 scoreless minutes, Dartmouth (9-4-1, 5-0 Ivy) took the victory against the Crimson (7-6-2, 3-2 Ivy) when Amadu Kunateh ’19 headed in a corner kick from Justin Donawa ’19 to end the overtime period with a 1-0 win over the Crimson.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” head coach Chad Riley said. “A lot of credit to Harvard, they’re a good team.”
Stefan Cleveland ’16 recorded a season-high in saves with seven, parrying away many threatening Harvard shots and coming away with his seventh shutout this season.
A minute before Kunateh scored the deciding goal, Harvard senior Jake Freeman drilled a shot to the bottom right corner. Cleveland was forced into a diving save but safely corralled the ball. The senior made two stunning saves in the overtime period, and in the end Dartmouth was able to knock in its first shot on goal of the period.
“They had a great long range shot at the beginning of overtime,” Riley said. “Cleveland focused and caught that well, and then we knew we needed to attack the flanks and [that] ended up creating a couple of corners for us. On the second one, Justin Donawa delivered a great ball and [Kunateh] rose up and finished off the game for us.”
Kunateh almost scored the deciding goal in the 83rd minute on a tricky free kick by the Big Green. Lined up outside the box, Kunateh ran over the ball, Donawa faked a kick and Kunateh curled back around to shoot. The attempt almost caught Crimson goalkeeper Evan Mendez off-guard, but the senior was able to bat the ball away.
“It’s definitely the best Harvard team I’ve seen in my four years,” Cleveland said. “We knew they were going to be good. We knew it was going to be a battle.”
One of Dartmouth’s best looks came from Noah Paravicini ’19, who had two attempts on goal in the 68th minute.
“[Paravicini] got through their defense with a good through ball from Alberto Gorini [’16],” Riley said. “The keeper saved his first shot, but he got his rebound and actually beat the keeper with his follow-up shot. But the Harvard player on the goal line saved it for him.”
Harvard had a scoring opportunity shortly before halftime, when a couple of Crimson players were able to pass the ball around the box to find an open angle. Senior forward Michael Innocenzi drilled a shot to the right side of the goal, but Cleveland was able to make a spectacular save.
With the victory, Dartmouth is now in the driver’s seat to pick up its second consecutive Ivy League title. The team leads the standings with 15 points on five wins. Brown University is in second place with 10 points and a 3-1-1 Ivy record. If Dartmouth beats Cornell University in its next Ivy League game, the Big Green will win the Ivy title.
“Going into overtime, we knew it was do or die,” Cleveland said. “The entire mentality of the whole week was that this was pretty much the Ivy League championship game.”
Sound defense has been the story for the Big Green this season. All five of the team’s Ivy League wins have been decided by one goal, and all but the 2-1 victory against Columbia University were 1-0 victories. Of the 10 goals that Dartmouth has allowed this season, only one has come in Ivy League play.
Cleveland manned the net for his seventh shutout of the season. This mark puts him on the heels of the all-time Big Green record of nine shutouts in a season, held by Sean Milligan ’09, who set the record in 2007 across 18 games. With three regular season games and a likely postseason trip to come, Cleveland has a chance to surpass the record.
The Big Green returns home this week after playing its last two games away. Northeastern University will visit Burnham Field tonight at 7 p.m., and Ivy League play continues this Saturday with Dartmouth hosting Cornell University at 4:00 p.m.
“We’ve got a game tomorrow, a big Tuesday game, that we’re focusing on now and just trying not to worry too much about the future,” Matt Danilack ’18 said. “We know what’s at stake this weekend, but we’re just trying to take it slow and take it one game at a time.”
After Cornell and Northeastern, the Big Green has one final road game scheduled against Brown on Saturday, Nov. 14. With Brown currently second in the Ivy League, it is the only team with the chance to upset the Big Green for the Ivy title.