Last year, Daniel Keat’s flaming red hair made an appearance on the field in every soccer game that Dartmouth played.
The New Zealander had to work hard to recover from a season-ending knee injury his sophomore year but managed a successful comeback one season later.
Not only was the Kiwi on the field for all but 40 minutes of last season, but he also led the Big Green in scoring with eight goals and six assists.
Needless to say, Keat will present a formidable challenge to No. 17 Penn on Saturday, when the Quakers head to Hanover, N.H., to take on Dartmouth (6-3-1. 1-1-0 Ivy) at 4 p.m.
One of the Big Green’s co-captains, Keat also represented New Zealand in the 2007 U-20 World Cup, qualified for the 2008 Olympic team — though he was benched due to injury — and is a three-time All-Ivy selection.
Though Keat is currently third on the Dartmouth stat sheet in points, he is one part of a dynamic Dartmouth trio that will put Penn’s strong defense — which has only allowed six goals in 11 games — to the test.
Senior back Zach Barnett will be part of the Penn back line responsible for shutting down the Big Green attack.
Barnett recalls that Keat was particularly tenacious in their last meeting — a 3-1 Dartmouth victory — keeping his moves simple but effective.
“He’s one of those players that you don’t want to play against,” Barnett said, “because he’s just always going to be there and … nudging at you or hitting you or running by you.”
In addition to keeping an eye on Keats, the Quakers (9-2-0, 2-0-0) will have to watch out for his combinations with junior Lucky Mkosana and senior Andrew Olsen will also keep the Red and Blue on their toes.
“They’ve got two guys in Olsen and Lucky who are very good at their runs, who are creative with their runs and who are good at getting behind the back four,” coach Rudy Fuller said.
While Penn will enter the game aware of Dartmouth’s strengths, the team has a plan.
Fuller points to restarts as a key place to start.
“They’ve got [senior Walker Linares] who we recruited here to Penn, he can probably throw 30 or 40 yards,” he said.
“So we have to be good on our defensive restarts because they’re very good at both corners and long throws.”
As a result, Penn’s defense will have to be on its game and stay alert to ensure that Keat’s ginger locks don’t blaze a path straight to the goal.