Penn men’s soccer’s season so far has been defined by defensive strength and an inability to score goals. Neither of those were evident this weekend, as Penn gave up more goals in a game than it has all season, but also scored its first goal after over 700 minutes of scoreless play.
On Saturday, the Red and Blue went on the road to take on four-time defending Ivy League champion Dartmouth. The Big Green came out on top, handing the Quakers a 3-1 loss.
“Overall, I think we had a great performance, and one we should be proud of, but then again we are walking away with a result that really doesn’t favor us because of maybe five or ten minutes of play that didn’t really go our way,” junior captain and midfielder Brandon Bartel said.
At the start of the game, Dartmouth (4-4-4, 1-0-2 Ivy) dominated in possession and ball control with freshman midfielder Dawson McCartney lofting in crosses from the left wing. Initially, Penn's defense — led by sophomore defender RC Williams — squashed the Big Green’s attacks with senior goalie Scott Forbes making several key saves. After Williams was temporarily sidelined with a head injury, leaving just 10 men on the field, one of McCartney’s many crosses found the head of sophomore forward Tiger Graham to put Dartmouth up 1-0 in the 23rd minute.
The Quakers (2-4-4, 0-3) put on some potent counterattacks for the remainder of the first half, with the Big Green seeing a fair share of their own chances. In the 41st minute, Penn’s best chance of the half from senior defender Erumuse Momoh off a ball from Bartel was unsuccessful, sending the Red and Blue into halftime down by one.
Penn certainly did not back down, coming out of the locker room with a lot of energy on the offensive end, but that increased energy was matched by the Big Green. Dartmouth’s aggressive mentality allowed it to double its lead in the 57th minute with another goal by Graham off a rebound, and the visitors extended their lead to three in the 65th minute off a shot from sophomore Kota Sakurai.
“I think our defense still played really well today,” senior midfielder and captain Joe Swenson said. “I think Dartmouth’s team is just really good at capitalizing on those opportunities. It’s more of a testament to them just taking care of the chances and doing a good job of putting it away.”
Swenson finally put the Quakers on the scoreboard in the 88th minute after a long series of valiant attempts from the Penn offense. The Red and Blue were awarded a penalty kick off a Dartmouth handball and Swenson buried it, giving the team its first goal since early September.
Throughout the game, many of the Quakers’ best offensive chances were generated by some of the team’s younger players, impressing Bartel.
“A lot of guys were making their debut, lot of freshmen stepped up and really started making an impact for us," he said. "I don’t think that ever should be taken for granted. It’s a very hard thing to do especially on the road and in an Ivy league game."
The Red and Blue's next chance to break into the Ivy winning column will come next Saturday when they travel to Reese Stadium in New Haven, Conn. to take on Yale.