The men’s soccer game on Sunday was like a boxing match — with Dartmouth, unfortunately, landing the final punch.
The Bulldogs traveled up to Hanover, N.H., for what is always a difficult road game and fought hard in a typically competitive Ivy League fight. In overtime, the Elis (4-7, 1-2 Ivy) finally fell to the Big Green (3-5-3, 1-1-1) with a final score of 0-1. The Dartmouth offense dominated much of the match, outshooting the Elis 14 to 9.
“In any even fight, you’re looking for that one telling punch that is going to land on the opponent’s jaw,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “We couldn’t find the right spot on the jaw, and we got caught ourselves.”
Off an overtime corner kick, the Big Green crossed the ball into the box as their attackers had done the whole game, but this time the Elis left one man open. The Big Green took advantage of this break, and a header by Daniel Keat made the difference.
“Dartmouth is always well prepared,” Tompkins said. “They seem to really relish playing at home. They’re really motivated, and they have good support there.”
In the first half, the Elis had a hard time getting their game going. The Bulldogs turned it around for a more dynamic second half by increasing the accuracy of their passes and by creating more scoring opportunities.
“We competed better in the second half, because we recognized that the game wasn’t going how we wanted it to go,” forward Alex Munns ’07 said. “We turned up the intensity and wanted to get in on the end of something or find that moment of brilliance, as our coach calls it.”
But the Elis were unable to find their opening in what one referee called the ugliest Yale-Dartmouth game he had ever seen.
“We played really well for ninety-four minutes, but in that time we didn’t have enough chances to score, and we didn’t execute well,” goalie Erik Geiger ’08 said.
Geiger made five saves for the Elis during the match. He said overtime was a bitter way to lose, because they had been playing so well in the second half.
Despite the disappointing result, a number of the players — namely defender Jake Miller ’07 and captain Jordan Reiger ’07 — worked extremely hard and played exceptionally well, Tompkins said. Reiger said some players came off the bench to make an impact, spice things up and provide some energy.
The Bulldogs need to put this loss behind them and to focus their attention on this Friday’s game. The Elis will travel to Ithaca, N.Y., where they will face a team that has not won an Ivy game this season under anticipated difficult weather conditions. Competition in the Ivy League is always about the next game, since every game affects the Ivy League Championship, Geiger said.
Tompkins said this week the team will focus on polishing up all areas of the game — passing, aggressive play and defensive concentration. Reiger added that he thinks it is important for the team to come together and dig themselves out of the hole.
“We need to find the character that has been eluding us so far,” Munns said. “I think we need to figure out what the game means to us and what the team means to us. We need to enjoy ourselves and enjoy playing with each other.”