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Justin Donawa ’19 began his collegiate athletic career with a bang. On a cool October night at Burnham Field in Hanover, the Dartmouth men’s soccer team was locked in a nail-biter against Ivy League rival Columbia University. Midway through the first half, Donawa made his second career appearance for the Big Green as a substitute, and in the 42nd minute, fired a bullet from 40 yards out that landed in the bottom back right corner of the net. In celebration, Donawa ran over to the sideline, exuberantly punching the air as he was mobbed by his teammates.
After winning two consecutive Ivy League titles to end a 22-year drought, the Dartmouth baseball team has met an identical end-of-season fate each of the last five years: winning its own Red Rolfe Division, only to lose in the ensuing Ivy championship series each time. With the Ivy League portion of the 2016 schedule on the horizon, the Big Green will now gear towards recreating the same success as in years past but overcome this final hurdle. Intentionally designed to provide some challenges, the team’s preseason has brought many more defeats than victories with a 5-13 record — and a troubling Ivy-worst -60 run differential — but generally produced a mixed bag of results.
Each week The Numbers Game breaks down one Dartmouth sports statistic.
Since appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16-year-old high school baseball prodigy, Bryce Harper has been one of the most polarizing figures in American sports. Some, like Tom Verducci, who profiled him for that Sports Illustrated cover, have billed him as a prodigy — “baseball’s Lebron [James].” Others, like Mike Wise of The Washington Post, have referred to him as immature and entitled.
The Big Green’s active players drafted by Major League Baseball since 2010 still have a shot to not only make it to the show, but star in it. For the players, making it from the minors and into the major leagues is the ultimate job promotion. Without further ado, here are my previews for upcoming profile features.Kyle Hendricks ’12: If you take away only one name and face, it should definitely be Kyle Hendricks. Drafted in 2011 during the eighth round by the Texas Rangers, he’s been one of the top flight talents the Big Green has sent to the majors in the past decade. Currently as a bottom of the rotation right-handed pitcher with promise for the Chicago Cubs, he continues to build on his early career success since his 2014 debut. He finished his rookie year with a 2.46 ERA in 80 innings pitched and a 3.95 ERA in 180 innings of work last year. This Spring Training, in 19 innings pitched, Hendricks has only allowed four runs (1.89 ERA) and a slick strikeout to walk ratio of 19 to 2. At this point in his career, I would most definitely advise hopping onto the Hendricks bandwagon and wouldn’t be surprised to see him pitching in the World Series this year.Chris O’Dowd ’13:Drafted just a year after Hendricks, during the 23rd round in 2012 by the San Diego Padres, O’Dowd currently plays catcher for the Double-A team the Mississippi Braves, an affiliate of the MLB parent club the Atlanta Braves. The son of Dan O’Dowd, the former longtime General Manager of the Colorado Rockies, O’Dowd has mostly spent his time as a professional baseball player bouncing around in the minor leagues. Despite showing flashes of potential such as during his 2015 campaign where he batted .304 with two home runs and 16 RBI in 79 at-bats in Double-A, O’Dowd hasn’t been without trouble as he received an 80 game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance and therefore violating baseball’s minor league drug prevention and treatment program.Joe Sclafani ’12:Selected in the 14th round of the 2012 draft by the Houston Astros, Sclafani has proven himself to be a strong infield and utility player for the team. After his strong play last year in Double-A and Triple-A where he excelled in an utility role and batted .292 in 233 minor league at-bats, Sclafani was recently invited to Spring Training as one of 19 other non-roster invitees.Cole Sulser ’12:Sulser, another right-handed pitcher, joined professional baseball when the Cleveland Indians drafted him in the 25th round of the 2013 draft. He was derailed by injury last season, and Sulser’s last pitch in the minors came September of 2014 for the Akron RubberDucks, the Indians’ Double-A affiliate. Although Sulser has a challenging road ahead to pitch in the majors, he’s not unfamiliar with the process of coming back from serious injury. During his time at Dartmouth, he came back strong from Tommy John surgery and into the school’s baseball record books.Michael Johnson ’13:Currently a southpaw relief pitcher, Johnson was drafted in the 14th round of the 2013 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Johnson’s career as a minor leaguer has been excellent as he sports a 2.63 ERA in 116 total innings. Recently assigned onto the Dodgers 40-man roster, Johnson currently plays for their Class A-Advanced affiliate the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.Mitch Horacek ’14: Also a lefty pitcher in a Class A-Advanced affiliate, the Frederick Keys, of his MLB organization, the Baltimore Orioles. Horacek was taken in the 9th round of the 2013 draft. Even though Horacek’s 4.90 ERA in 154 innings last season may not have been pristine, he showed off his talent by leading his league in strikeouts with 146.
Sunday night against Colgate University, men’s hockey head coach Bob Gaudet ’81 knew the game would come down to someone making a crucial play. Tim O’Brien ’16 made that play. In double overtime of game three of the best-of-three series against Colgate, O’Brien took a pass from linemate John Ernsting ’19 and proceeded to rifle a shot past Colgate goaltender Charlie Fin.The 4-3 win punched the Big Green’s ticket to an ECAC quarterfinals match-up with Yale University in New Haven. Finn had recently been named the ECAC’s Goalie of the Week after allowing just one goal in two games.
As the women’s basketball program wraps up the 2015-16 season, the team’s outlook is optimistic despite the impending loss of two dominant players, seniors Lakin Roland ’16 and Daisy Jordan ’16. The program has had its ups and downs over the past few seasons — its consistent year-to-year improvement, however, looks to continue under new emerging players and the continued efforts of the coaching staff. The current season marks Belle Koclanes’ third year as head coach. Her tenure has seen the team go from last place in the 2013-14 season to sixth place last season. This year, the team finished fourth place in the league with a record of 7-7. This finish is the team’s best since the 2008-09 season in which the Big Green took home the Ivy title.
The next week will be a big one for Big Green track and field and ski teams, as both teams head to the NCAA championship races hunting for strong results. The Big Green track and field team is closing one its top seasons historically after the men’s best finish in the five years at Ivy League’s Indoor Heptagonal Championship. On the slopes, the Big Green Ski team will head to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where the University of Colorado will host the NCAA Skiing Championship.
At the fourth game of the season, and the first home game, the men’s lacrosse team fell 7-6 to Wagner College at Scully-Fahey Field for the first time in program history. While the Seahawks improved to 2-3, the Big Green falls to 0-4.
The equestrian team was back in the saddle on Saturday at the University of New Hampshire, competing for the first time since they concluded its fall stint in November. The Big Green placed sixth out of 12 schools who competed in Saturday’s show. Dartmouth equestrian enjoyed modest success in its seven fall shows, winning at Middlebury College and Colby-Sawyer College and placing third in three more shows.
The men’s hockey team advanced to the ECAC quarterfinals by knocking off Colgate University in a thrilling best-of-three series at Thompson Arena that ended tonight with a 4-3 double overtime win. Both of the Big Green's wins required more than 60 minutes of play.
Two games remain in the Dartmouth men’s basketball team’s schedule, but its in-conference fate has long been decided. Stumbling to a 1-6 Ivy League mark start and mathematically eliminated from contention three weeks before the season’s end, the Big Green, now 3-9 in the conference, appear destined to finish somewhere in the fifth to eighth range in the standings. As it closes out a testing year, it’s worth assessing where things went right and wrong — especially for a team that has not experienced a conference win percentage decline from the prior season since 2009-10.
[slideshow_deploy id='119978']This Friday, the Dartmouth baseball team will be playing against the NCAA’s No. 1 ranked University of Florida. For an Ivy League school, playing against the top team in the country in any sport is rare, but for the Big Green baseball and softball teams, playing against the best teams in the country happens all the time. The 127th ranked team overall and 2nd ranked Ivy League team in the NCAA RPI rankings from the end of last season (Florida finished 6th), Dartmouth baseball seeks these challenges early in the season because it should.
In an up-and-down weekend, the Dartmouth ski team surged to an early lead with wins in men’s and women’s slalom on day one of racing before eventually dropping into a second place finish at the Middlebury Carnival. In the final carnival of the season that also served as the NCAA Regionals, the Big Green was unable to hold off University of Vermont but feels ready for the NCAA Championships that are next on its schedule.
As the last winter term of our illustrious Dartmouth careers draws to a close, so, too, has our already dwindling self-respect. Some people save their best for last. We came in with a bang and are going out with a whimper, unread and unloved by the community that once adored us and hung on our every word.
On Feb. 27, the No. 38 men’s tennis team defeated two more teams to bring its ongoing win streak to five games. Hosting both teams at the Boss Tennis Center, the Big Green first defeated St. John’s University in a close rematch 4-3 and followed up the win by demolishing Sacred Heart University 7-0.
Men’s squash finished its historic season, ranked seventh in the country, while the No. 9 women’s squash took home the Kurtz Cup for first time in four years.
The Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, known to coaches and athletes as “Heps,” is the culmination of months of intense training and preparation for the men’s and women’s track and field teams. Hosted at Cornell University’s Barton Hall in Ithaca, New York from Feb. 27 to 28, the meet is unlike any other for the Big Green athletes.
The men’s hockey team dropped a pair of road games this weekend, missing out on a first-round bye in the ECAC Tournament. The team instead set itself up for a matchup with Colgate University in the tournament’s opening round next weekend. Dartmouth is set to host.