In a battle between two Ivy League heavyweights, the Dartmouth women’s soccer team bested Penn in shots and corners, but the Quakers prevailed in the category that matters most: goals.
Playing in front of a home crowd at Rhodes Field, Penn (9-1-3, 3-1 Ivy)avenged last season’s disheartening loss with a 1-0 victory over the Big Green (5-5-3, 2-2), who logged 10 shots compared to the Quakers’ six.
The sole score of the night came in the 57th minute, when sophomore midfielder Erin Mikolai beat a defender and fired a left-footed shot across the goal.
“I was hoping that if I shot it to the far post, at least something might happen,” Mikolai said.
Though Dartmouth goalkeeper Tatiana Saunders’ diving stop deflected the shot away, junior Megan York burst onto the scene and connected with the ball on the rebound to record her third goal of the season.
The matchup featured two of the best defenses in the Ivy League, but despite entering halftime knotted at 0-0, both squads had their chances in the first half of play. With just under six minutes remaining, Dartmouth forward Emma Brush got a clear look at the goal from the top of the 18-yard box, but her shot missed wide right.
Three minutes later, York beat a defender on the baseline and crossed the ball across the net.
Junior Clara Midgley narrowly missed the ball at the far post, putting her just inches from giving Penn a lead before the half. Dartmouth’s most potent scorer, Brush, struggled with injuries throughout the game, first going down 16 minutes into the match. She continued to play despite an observable limp.
With more than 41 minutes remaining in the second half, Brush was replaced, stripping the Big Green of its offensive catalyst and simplifying Penn’s defensive assignments.
Bumps and bruises were all in a day’s work for two physical squads in a crucial conference battle. After last season’s loss, the Quakers knew their ability to hang tough with Dartmouth’s physical play, especially in the air, and win 50-50 balls would be necessary to emerge with a win.
“We had to compete in the air,” coach Darren Ambrose said. “They destroyed us in the air last year.”
The victory extends the Quakers’ winning streak at Rhodes Field in conference matches to ten games. Penn has not suffered a defeat at home against an Ivy League opponent since Oct. 8, 2010 against Columbia.
Meanwhile, the Big Green have just one win on the road in eight opportunities this season.
The Quakers’ current win streak of five games is largely due to their defense’s flawless performance over that span, which includes 531 minutes of scoreless play. Penn last conceded a goal on Sept. 29 in a 1-1 draw with Lehigh.
Penn’s win, combined with a Harvard victory over Brown, has narrowed the field for the Ivy League championship, as the Bears slid into third place with their first loss in conference play.
Dartmouth, which narrowly missed a championship last season, now has two losses to its name and has slipped out of title contention.
The Quakers are now in sole possession of second place.
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