Sometimes, the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.
Penn men’s soccer fell to Dartmouth, 1-0, on a chilly Saturday evening in Philadelphia, marking the team's first Ivy League loss of the season and second consecutive defeat. Dartmouth (5-5-1, 2-1 Ivy) took on the Quakers (4-5-2, 1-1-1) in a physical battle characterized by many missed opportunities, leading to the Big Green’s first road win of the season.
Dartmouth took control of the game early, generating many chances from the attacking third in the first half. A stout defensive front for the Red and Blue, however, led by juniors Alex Touche and RC Williams, was able to counter the Big Green’s offensives.
Penn generated most of its offense in the first half through counterattacks. In the 10th minute, the first shot of the game for either team came from freshman defender Kai Lammers, who crossed the ball to freshman midfielder Jack Rosener for a header that sailed just high.
A few minutes later, sophomore midfielder Ben Stitz’s header off a corner from senior captain Brandon Bartel was saved by Dartmouth’s goalkeeper. Despite this exciting start for the Quakers’ offense, Stitz’s header proved to be the last good chance at a goal in the opening 45.
The Big Green, on the other hand, kept their foot on the gas throughout the first half. At one point, they even generated three shots on goal in one possession. In the 44th minute, Dartmouth mounted an offensive, with the ball eventually finding its way to the back of the net. Crisis was averted for Penn, however, as a foul on Dartmouth negated the goal and kept the game scoreless.
Though the score remained knotted at zero at the half, Dartmouth outshot the Quakers, 6-2, and seemed to be in control of the game.
The second half represented a major shift in playing style, as the game got much more physical. The officials chose to let the players play as opposed to calling many fouls.
“When the game gets going like that, what I read between the lines is that it’s competitive,” coach Brian Gill said.
The Quakers seemed to make some halftime adjustments, as both their offense and defense stepped up in the second half. Penn outshot the Big Green, 8-2, in the second half, and kept the ball on the attacking side of the field.
“What we talked about at halftime was having a little bit more of an aggressive mentality of our own: to step out and make life harder for them, which I thought we did,” Gill said.
Despite the Red and Blue being in control, Dartmouth was able to capitalize first. Off a counterattack in the 55th minute, Dartmouth senior midfielder Zach Kalk led a through-ball to junior forward Tiger Graham, who was able to put it past Penn sophomore goalkeeper Dane Jacomen to break the tie.
“I think their goal kind of came against the run of play in the second half, and thankfully it was early enough in the half that it gave us an opportunity to dig our way back into it,” Gill said.
From that point on, Penn played with more urgency and aggressiveness in its game. A yellow card was given to senior defender Casey Barone in the 77th minute, but the ensuing Dartmouth set piece was saved by Jacomen.
The last 10 minutes of the contest were almost solely played in Penn’s attacking third. Off a corner in the 89th minute, the Red and Blue were able to get two shots off, only to have both saved by Dartmouth’s goalkeeper, ending any bit of hope for an equalizer to send the game to extra time.
Although the Quakers generated plenty of goal-scoring opportunities, it has been a struggle of late to find the back of the net, as the team has only scored one goal in its last three games. The loss dropped Penn to fourth in the Ivy League standings.
The Red and Blue hope to get back on track on Tuesday with a match against Drexel (5-6-2) before resuming Ivy play against undefeated Yale (9-0-2, 3-0) next Saturday.