While Saturday’s torrential downpour left Soccer-Lacrosse stadium soggy and sodden, it was Dartmouth’s presence that put a damper on the Bulldogs’ early season success.
After a tough battle in even tougher conditions, the men’s soccer team (5-2-3, 1-1 Ivy) fell to the reigning Ivy League champion Big Green (6-1-3, 2-0), 1-0. The loss snapped the Elis’ two-game winning streak and extended Dartmouth’s winning streak to five games.
What was predicted to be a gritty showdown between the champs and the upstart contenders was made even more so by the rainy weather. The slippery field resulted in a defensive battle that saw only six total shots on goal.
“I thought the conditions made for a very difficult game,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “The game was surprisingly well-played by both teams despite the weather. We anticipated a close game and that’s what it turned out to be. In the end it was one re-start that separated the two teams.”
The lone difference in the game came off a rushed re-start that saw Dartmouth take advantage of an unset Yale defense. Eleven minutes into the game, Dartmouth’s PJ Scheufele sent a sweeping corner-kick right to Lucas Richardson, who headed it past Yale goalie Erik Geiger ’08. The quick re-start caught the Bulldogs off guard, leaving Richardson wide open for the header.
After spending the past two weeks tweaking his game, Geiger returned to the net for the Bulldogs. Despite the Richardson goal, Geiger — making his first start since a 2-1 lost to Fairleigh-Dickinson University Sept. 28 — held his own against an experienced and talented Dartmouth squad and finished with four saves.
Geiger’s counterpart, Rowan Anders, felt considerably less pressure. The Bulldogs mustered just five shots total and only one shot on goal. Forward Alex Munns ’07 said the Bulldogs simply couldn’t make things happen against an aggressive and active Dartmouth squad.
“I think they just wanted it more than us,” Munns said. “We had a great span for a few minutes before the half, but for the first 30 or 35 minutes we could not possess the ball. [Dartmouth] just got behind us, really attacked the ball and set up opportunities. They were just doing what they always do.”
The situation went from bad to worse in the second half, as the field rapidly deteriorated. Tompkins said the awful conditions slowed the tempo of the game and handicapped Yale’s comeback efforts.
“We started the game with the expectation that the conditions would be suitable throughout the 90 minutes,” Tompkins said. “The field was fine in the first half, but the conditions in the second half made it difficult for both teams. Giving up that goal early hurt us. It was an uphill battle trying to come back against a good team in those conditions.”
Midfielder James Stewart ’07 said that while the weather played a factor in the game’s outcome, ultimately the blame must rest on Yale’s shoulders.
“You can never blame the conditions for the game,” Stewart said. “But having the field [in that condition] made it a little more difficult to come back. Dartmouth always plays really hard defense and we just ran out of time before we could figure out how to come back.”
The Bulldogs must brush themselves off quickly in order to prepare for their game against ACC power Boston College on Wednesday in Boston. Despite the loss, Tompkins said he thinks Saturday’s battle against a very strong Dartmouth team will help them get ready for the Eagles.
“I think [Saturday] we saw the value in experience,” Tompkins said. “We had a lot of rookies playing against battle-hardened veterans and I think we learned lessons from it. Hopefully we will take those lessons to heart and prepare well for our next game.”