Last season, Dartmouth’s men’s soccer team entered its midseason tangle with Yale riding a four-game winning streak. As this weekend’s reprise draws near, the Big Green — on paper, at least — hardly seem to resemble last year’s powerhouse squad. Then again, the members of Yale’s team know that in Ivy League soccer, overall records rarely tell the full story.
“Every Ivy League game is a battle,” captain Jordan Rieger ’07 said. “Your record for the season simply does not matter when you step onto the pitch.”
For Rieger and company, D-Day is Sunday, when Yale (4-6-1, 1-1 Ivy) takes on Dartmouth (2-5-3, 0-1-1) in Hanover, N.H. with Ivy League title aspirations at stake. For both squads, the 2006 season so far has flashed moments of both frustration and triumph. The Bulldogs emerged victorious in their first two matches, taking down Marist and Boston College, but then proceeded to go winless in their following four contests. The Big Green also began their season in form, beating Binghamton, 2-0, before becoming mired in a similar four-game slide.
Regardless of this year’s results, the Bulldogs will be put to the test come Sunday.
“Darthmouth is a very well-organized, well-coached team,” Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. “We have to make sure that when the opportunities are there, we’re ready and able to take them.”
Even with a sub-.500 record, Dartmouth’s defense has been stingy this year, surrendering only eight goals in 10 matches. Senior goalkeeper Rowan Anders has averaged only 0.68 goals per start. Still, Dartmouth’s offense hasn’t kept pace; the team has been held to six goals on 125 shots.
Though Yale’s offense has averaged nearly 1.5 goals per game, the team has been plagued by occasional bouts of sloppiness, defenseman Eric Stone ’07 said.
“We have an unfortunate habit of giving up goals late and early in the half,” he said. “Avoiding mental errors — that’s very key for us.”
Yale comes into Sunday’s game with an even 1-1 Ivy League record. In their most recent match, the Bulldogs fell to 17th-ranked Fairfield, 3-1. In that game, the Bulldogs fired nine more shots on goal than their opponents, but gave up two Fairfield penalty kicks for scores.
Despite that defeat, Rieger said the game featured some positives for the team, and that his squad still feels confident heading into its weekend match.
“We were playing much better as a unit,” he said. “As a team, we’re well prepared, we’re excited, and we’re ready to play.”
Rieger also said he and his teammates know that this Sunday’s match carries big consequences for their season, and that the team is serious about coaming out on top.
“The guys are very excited and willing to take on the challenge,” he said. “We definitely have something to prove. We know we are good, and so far this season the results haven’t reflected that.”