Men’s soccer shuts out Bulldogs
By Victor Muchatuta
Published on Monday, October 8, 2012
Riding a wave of confidence from Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over the University of Vermont, the Dartmouth men’s soccer team won its second game in a row, controlling play in a 1-0 victory over Yale University in front of a passionate home crowd at Burnham Field on Saturday night.
The Big Green (5-5, 1-1 Ivy) battled to victory over the fiery Bulldogs (3-5-3, 0-1-1 Ivy), getting its quest for a second consecutive conference title back on track following a 2-1 extra-time defeat in last week’s Ivy opener at Princeton University. Effective build-up play coupled with an impressive defensive performance proved to be the perfect formula for victory in a match that the Big Green consistently dominated.
“Our build-up play was varied and effective, and thanks to a committed showing from the whole team in defense, we were able to protect our lead,” co-captain Teo Larsson-Sax ’13 said.
The Big Green came out of the gates aggressively and looked to get on the scoreboard early, as Dartmouth tallied four times as many shots as Yale in the first half. Making use of the width of the pitch, the Big Green’s build-up play was quick when it needed to be and patient when the situation called for an adjustment. The only goal of the game came at the end of a solid Big Green possession originating in the team’s own half, and it was two substitutes who linked up to create the breakthrough. Brad Jacobson ’13 put the ball on a plate for Sten Stray-Gundersen ’16, who slotted past Yale goalkeeper Bobby Thalman to record his first-ever collegiate goal.
“We stuck to our game plan,” Stray-Gundersen said. “Coach [Jeff] Cook made sure we went out aggressively — putting pressure on the opposition, forcing mistakes and making sure we capitalized on the opportunities that we created.”
For the duration of the first half, the Big Green was in control, dominating and always looking likely to score. However, at the start of the second period, the Bulldogs came out charging. Whatever Yale coach Brian Tompkins said during the break seemed to have worked.
Desperate to equalize and level the game, the Bulldogs began taking more chances and going forward with more purpose. Led by midfield playmaker Jenner Fox, the Bulldogs came close several times but were held at bay by Big Green keeper Noah Cohen ’14, whose performance not only secured a crucial victory for his team, but left many running out of superlatives for his level of play.
“The man of the match has got to be Noah,” Dartmouth coach Jeff Cook said. “Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three saves that were simply amazing and that kept us in the game with a chance of winning.”
Cohen’s performance was the kind that lent assurance to his teammates, who could play more relaxedly knowing that they had a quality goalkeeper anchoring their side.
“It gives the whole team, and especially the defense, confidence when you have someone like Noah in goal,” Larsson-Sax said. “We’re lucky to have him.”
Indeed, the Bulldogs began taking more and more risks as the game went on, and their newfound confidence led to many nervous moments for the Big Green’s back four, who responded by putting on a master class in structure, organization and concentration to deny the Bulldogs any chance of equalizing.
“You have to give [Yale] credit for their approach in the second half,” Cook said. “It’s always hard to deal with a team who is taking so many risks, and I’m pleased with how the team responded to the increased pressure.”
By the end of the match, Yale had recorded twice as many attempts on goal as Dartmouth. Nonetheless, the Big Green didn’t disappoint in front of an exuberant home crowd. The win over Yale, coupled with the midweek victory over Vermont, should give Dartmouth confidence as it prepares to head into the meat of the Ivy League schedule.
Before then, however, the Big Green will hit the road to face Boston College (6-3-2, 2-1-1 ACC) on Wednesday, which is coming off a 1-0 win over No. 15 Wake Forest University.
“We go into the game versus Boston College confident and knowing that if we play our game, we can win,” Larsson-Sax said.
Dartmouth started last season 1-1 in the Ivy League before going unbeaten over its final five conference games to take the title. If the Big Green can continue its current vein of form, a similar result could be in the offing this season.