Men’s soccer secures first road win of season at Penn, 1-0
The Big Green improved to 5-5-1 and 2-1 in conference play with a win over Penn on Saturday.
This weekend, the men’s soccer team got its first road win of the season against an Ivy League rival, defeating the University of Pennsylvania 1-0.
Coming off of a 3-1 loss against Yale University last weekend, the team was hungry for a win. Sitting in second place in the Ivy League with one loss already on the books, the Big Green knew it was a must-win game.
“There was a lot of anticipation for it because we knew it was a must-win game,” said Mothibi Penn-Kekana ’22. “We had a good week of training, we didn’t have a mid-week game, so we brought the energy that we needed.”
The game had a physical start, with two quick Dartmouth fouls, and one by Penn, within the first 10 minutes. Dartmouth’s Zach Kalk ’20 had the first shot of the game in the 12th minute, which went wide of the net. Soon after, Penn took a corner kick, followed by a shot on net which was saved by goalkeeper Alex Budnik ’22.
In the 20th minute of the game, the Big Green had a corner kick, followed by three quick, consecutive blocked shots by Kota Sakurai ’21, Patrick Murphy ’21 and Kalk. Three minutes later, Kalk had another shot, blocked by Penn. The persistent shooting by Dartmouth lightened up through the end of the first half, however. The end of the half was closed out with a shot by Alex Van Schalkwyk ’23 in the 41st minute and another save from Budnik with five seconds remaining in the half.
Dartmouth’s strong start on the field was reflected in the stats from the game. The Big Green outshot Penn 6-2 in the first half, with goalkeeper Budnik recording saves on both of Penn’s shots.
Penn came out strong at the beginning of the second half, with shots on the Big Green goal from Jack Kohlbrenner and Alex Touche of Penn. However, in the 55th minute, Braden Salvati ’20 sent the ball to Kalk, who found teammate Tiger Graham ’21 for the first and only goal of the game.
“We definitely had more control over the game so we were expecting to win, and then when the goal happened that obviously that was a big weight off our shoulders and it just became a choice of defending hard,” Penn-Kekana said.
The 63rd minute saw two quick corner kicks, followed by two shots by Penn. Despite Penn’s momentum throughout the second half, the Dartmouth defense was able to hold off six shots over the course of 25 minutes and kept Penn scoreless for the game. With Penn’s failure to score, Budnik was able to record his third shutout of the season.
“All season long, [Budnik has] been really, really focused,” said head coach Bo Oshiniyi. He’s been just really steady for us. And he’s done a great job of keeping us calm and making big saves when he has to.”
In the second half of the game, Dartmouth was outshot 8-2, with Budnik recording four saves during the game for the Big Green. The in-conference game proved to be a competitive and physical one, with the Big Green being carded for 13 fouls and Penn for 14.
The Big Green sits only behind Yale in the Ivy League, and will look to finish out Ivy play undefeated for its best chance to bring home a championship. Dartmouth has its final non-conference game this week at home against the University of Hartford on Tuesday, then remains in Hanover to take on Columbia University on Saturday. The team plans to take the momentum and energy from Saturday’s win forward through the rest of the season.
“We’re second in the Ivy League and we know that basically every game is do or die,” Penn-Kekana said. “We can’t afford to lose because we’ve already lost one game, so we’re going to take all the energy to all of our Ivy League games.”