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Big Green Feasts on Victory

  • Dartmouth's Wyatt Omsberg reacts during the Big Green's 1-0 win over UMass on Tuesday night in Hanover. (Risley Sports Photography -- Matt and John Risley)

  • Dartmouth's Wyatt Omsberg goes up for a header during Tuesday night's game against UMass in Hanover. (Risley Sports Photography -- Matt and John Risley)



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hanover — Dartmouth College used a pregame “tailgate” gathering to entice students to Tuesday night’s Burnham Field home opener with UMass. The hamburgers and hot dogs turned out to be a good idea, because there wasn’t much offense for fans to feast their eyes upon once inside Burnham Field.

Dartmouth’s 1-0 nonconference victory was its fourth consecutive game to feature only one tally and boosted its record to 2-2. The Big Green last year became the first Ivy League team in 31 years to claim a third consecutive Ancient Eight crown.

“We knew it would be a tough game and we’d have to work hard,” said fifth-year coach Chad Riley, who now has a full roster of players whom he recruited. “UMass works hard, and they’re organized and dangerous on set pieces.”

The Minutemen (3-2-1) are coached by former Big Green bench boss Fran O’Leary, who guided Dartmouth to a 56-48-14 record and two NCAA tournament appearances from 1994-2000.

Dartmouth was 10-4-4 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament in 1997, when O’Leary was named Division I Coach of the Year.

Tuesday, however, his squad surrendered the game’s only goal during the 18th minute, after the hosts were awarded a free kick from just outside the right side of the penalty area.

Lining up for what amounted to a short corner kick, Dartmouth freshman Dawson McCarthy curved a left-footed boot over a two-man wall into the far end of the box. Senior defender Wyatt Omsberg, all of 6-feet-4 and called upfield for the play, headed the kick into the net.

“From 15 yards, it’s easier to be accurate, and we got a great delivery and a great run onto the ball,” Riley said.

Dartmouth goalkeeper Christopher Palacios, a 6-foot-6 freshman from Arlington, Va., was credited with no saves during his second start and improved to 2-1. The rookie took over after sophomore Henry Stusnick was hurt during the season opener at Michigan State.

Palacious “is good on crosses and very physical, and he has a good, calm presence back there,” Riley said. “You want to have two keepers ready to play, and Henry will get a chance to play again.”

Dartmouth averaged only 1.16 goals per game last season, but held the opposition to 0.79. Riley would certainly take an offensive explosion, but he knows the Ivy League brings grind-it-out, nail-biting contests similar to Tuesday’s action.

“We’re getting to know each other on the attack, but you can see us unleashing our offensive potential day by day,” the coach said. “We’re getting into good spots, and now we need a little more composure.”

Notes: Dartmouth took seven corner kicks to UMass’ three. … A wide variety of Ivy League sports games are being streamed on Facebook Live this week, Tuesday’s contest among them. … Burnham Field’s grass was cut in an ever-expanding set on concentric circles for Tuesday’s game. A grounds crew member walked the field at halftime with a bucket, replacing divots when possible and filling holes with sand. … The Minutemen feature players from England, Germany, Greece, Australia and Hong Kong. Dartmouth has players from Senegal, Japan and Bermuda. … Former Big Green women’s hockey player Morgan Illikainen has been hired as an assistant coach at her alma mater. The onetime defenseman and 2015 graduate coached at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y., last winter. She replaces Courtney Sheary, who joined the Boston College staff last month. That opening occurred when former Dartmouth star Gillian Apps departed so she could attend Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.