Men’s lacrosse, 3-0 on the season, off to best start since 2006
Something is certainly different for the Dartmouth men’s lacrosse team this year. The team’s exciting 3-0 start marks its best start to a season since 2006. After wins over Merrimack University and Bryant University, the Big Green continued its strong performance with a 14-5 win over the University of Massachusetts Lowell this past weekend.
Heading into the first game, George Prince ’21 said the team had high expectations for the season. This motivation has showed so far. Three games in, Dartmouth already has more wins than in its previous four seasons.
Prince attributed the success to the offseason work the team has put in and an eagerness to show improvement over the last few years from the work of alumni and returning players. The Big Green did not graduate any of its goal-scorers from the 2019 season and has nine new freshmen.
The team has been working on physicality, particularly ground balls and mental and physical toughness. Prince said that this has been a long-term goal of the team that he thinks they’ve found a good balance of this year.
“We’re confident enough in each other that we can be a physical and disciplined team at the same time,” Prince said.
The Big Green started the season by taking on Merrimack University. It was a close game between the two teams, with goals traded throughout. In the end, the game came down to the fourth quarter. Dartmouth maintained the lead from the second quarter on, but Merrimack kept the game close and remained within striking distance until late in the fourth. Tommy Rogan ’23 scored three goals for the Big Green to provide a two-goal advantage as time expired.
Prince had a career-high nine points and Rogan had six for the game. Captain Ben Martin ’20 and Matt Paul ’21 also scored for the Big Green. Goalie Daniel Hincks ’22 secured 14 saves. Rogan said the 13-11 victory was a great team win and helped solidify that preseason confidence Prince talked about.
Next, the team faced off against Bryant University in its home opener. At Scully-Fahey field, Bryant scored first 14 minutes into the game. Both offenses were shut out until Martin put the first goal up for the Big Green. In the second, Bryant briefly took the lead before Martin scored again to tie the game again, assisted by Prince. The teams kept the game close in the second and third quarters.
Rogan said that heading into the second half, winning more ground balls was a priority for the Big Green as Bryant led in that statistic after the first quarter. The teams entered the final quarter tied 5-5. Both teams came alive offensively in the fourth. Bryant’s three quick goals might have provided momentum, but Dartmouth was able to fight back and take the lead.
“The fourth quarter was a culmination of the mentality that we’ve had where even if we are faced with adversity we’re going to pull it out in the end,” Prince said.
In the final 10 minutes, the Big Green offense and defense were both strong. Dartmouth recorded six goals and kept Bryant from scoring again. Liam O’Connell ’20 and Mitchell Myers ’23 scored their first goals of the season. Martin, Prince and Paul all scored again as well. Overall, 10 different players ended up providing points for the Big Green. Hincks again had 14 saves in the game and was named Dartmouth’s Male Athlete of the Week. Dartmouth outshot Bryant and accomplished its goal of winning more ground balls than the Bulldogs. The 11-8 victory is the first time in program history that the Big Green has come out on top over Bryant.
“All of the older kids keep telling us freshman how we don’t understand how big this is for the program,” Rogan said. “Especially after that game to be 2-0 and down 8-5 and still come out with a win.”
This Saturday, the Big Green traveled to UMass Lowell and came back victorious with a 14-5 win. UMass Lowell scored first two minutes into the game and were up 3-0 10 minutes into the game. Rogan said the team was comfortable in this situation, as the Big Green’s opponent has scored first in all three games this year. This confidence showed as Dartmouth quickly shifted the momentum. Rogan put the Big Green on the board with two goals. Harlan Smart ’20 followed up with two more. Suddenly, Dartmouth held the lead at the end of the first quarter.
From there, Dartmouth increased the offensive pressure and kept UMass Lowell out of the net. O’Connell started the second quarter scoring spree and Paul followed up with three goals. Paul had a career day with six total points. In the third quarter, Martin and O’Connell both scored to take the score to 10-3, and Paul then scored twice again. The Big Green prevented UMass Lowell from scoring for nearly 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes of the game, the Dartmouth defense only allowed two more goals from the Riverhawks. Hincks continued his strong play in goal with 10 saves. Jimmy Heidt ’21 and Mike Connolly ’21 both registered their first goals this spring in the final minutes of the game. Again, Dartmouth led the Riverhawks in ground balls 31-23 and recorded a 19-15 advantage in shots on goal.
Rogan said the Big Green coaches and leaders are focusing on the next game at hand, but he conceded that Ivy League play, which starts on March 21 against Harvard University, is on the team’s mind.
“Being in the spot we are, there’s a lot of confidence in the locker room right now, which I think may be different from years past,” Rogan said.
Dartmouth will play three more nonconference games before conference play begins. The Big Green will look to continue its undefeated start on Saturday with a road game at the University of Vermont.