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Basics Hard To Come By For Big Green

Dartmouth College attackman Wiley Osborne (3) spins toward Pennsylvania goaltender Brian Feeney while absorbing the check of Quakers defenseman Matt McMahon on Saturday. The Big Green lost, 9-3, at Scully-Fahey Field and fell to 1-9 overall and 0-5 in the Ivy League. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Dartmouth College attackman Wiley Osborne (3) spins toward Pennsylvania goaltender Brian Feeney while absorbing the check of Quakers defenseman Matt McMahon on Saturday. The Big Green lost, 9-3, at Scully-Fahey Field and fell to 1-9 overall and 0-5 in the Ivy League. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

Hanover — Throw and catch. You can’t win a lacrosse game without doing both successfully, which mostly explains why the Dartmouth College men’s team fell to visiting Pennsylvania, 9-3, on Saturday. The result dropped the Big Green to 1-9 overall and 0-5 in Ivy League play. The program will try to avoid its first winless Ivy season since 2002 when it plays its league finale at Brown on Saturday.

Dartmouth’s three goals was its lowest output since losing 16-2 at Princeton in 2010. It’s hard to score when you can’t maintain possession of the ball and the Big Green struggled with that task all afternoon.

“We don’t pass and catch well enough to beat these kind of teams,” said Dartmouth coach Andy Towers, whose team concludes its season April 29 by hosting Holy Cross (3-11). “I’d love to say it’s something else, but you can’t have what seemed like 15 to 20 unforced turnovers.

“It’s one thing if you’re dropping the ball in a risk-reward situation, but it’s another if you can’t move the ball around the perimeter or you just throw a poor, cross-field pass. It’s disheartening.”

Dartmouth cleared the ball from its own end on just four out of nine attempts during the first quarter and 11 out of 18 in the opening half, after which it trailed, 5-1. The only factors that kept the game somewhat close were a career-high 14 saves by Big Green goaltender Blair Friedensohn, but even that bright spot came with a dark lining.

“He had some really good saves, but I think he can have more poise on the clear,” Towers said. “He’s a tremendous leader, but it didn’t seem like we were much of a threat in transition at all.”

Wiley Osborne had two goals and Jack McCormick had one. Both are diminutive, freshmen attackmen who probably wouldn’t be starting if injured juniors Adam Hull and Adam Fishman weren’t out. Dartmouth won only 6-of-16 faceoffs and Towers switched from junior Phil Hession to freshman Krieg Greco, but both were schooled by Penn’s Danny Feeney.

The deciding factor, however, was ball possession. Time after time, Dartmouth coughed up the rubber, wearing down its defense, another position weakened by injury. The No. 10 Quakers (7-3, 4-2) displayed a poised attack ,but weren’t really tested.

“We practice well all week and play hard, but sometimes it doesn’t show in the game,” said senior midfielder Brendan Rotanz. “We’re committing turnovers when we don’t even have (defenders) on our hands. It’s a puzzling situation, because this is a Division I program and we ought to be skilled enough to pass and catch. I would say it’s probably more mental than anything.”

Said Towers: “We’ve had some personnel turnover and you may take a hit schematically because of that, but at the same time, everybody comes to practice. Our record is not what we want it to be because of a variety of reasons, but some of those are not effort or a unified team.”

Not with the squad Saturday was gifted midfielder Cam Lee, who has been suspended for the third time in his college career and whose season is over. Towers said the sophomore from Long Island, N.Y., who has contributed 14 goals and three assists in 15 Dartmouth games, may return down the road.

“My hope is he’ll come back and learn from this opportunity,” the coach said, noting that Lee’s current ban came from the school administration. “He’s a great kid and I love him, but the decisions are what they are.”

Another uncertain issue involves Towers’ own future. The fifth-year bench boss is 19-46 overall and 5-24 in Ivy play. A former All-American player at Brown, he was a Big Green assistant for five years before ascending to his current position. The program’s record the past decade is 51-85 overall and 17-42 in league competition. Dartmouth is 100-247 in Ivy games since the league was formed in 1956.

“Coach Towers keeps bringing in great kids, and even though our record has gone down since I got here, I think our talent level is way better,” said Rotanz, who is in favor of Towers being retained. “Maybe our chemistry needs to be a little better, but if we can figure out the kinks and stupid mistakes we make, we’re right there for an Ivy League championship.

“I honestly think we have enough talent, even if it doesn’t show in our record. We’ve got good enough players, but definitely something is missing. It’s going to click one of these days.”

Notes: Towers started eight of his nine seniors, with injured Eric Clemmenson the exception. Attackman Jeff Perkins, also hurt, was nonetheless able to dress and briefly take the field at the beginning of the contest. The other seniors are Rotanz, Patrick Resch, Dennis Foster, Evan Bloom, Mike Olentine, Austin Cohen and Todd Bracken. … Dartmouth was outshot, 37-27. … Brown, Dartmouth’s next opponent, escaped Scully-Fahey Field last season in three overtimes and on a controversial goal scored as time expired. … Dartmouth has lost 15 consecutive Ivy road games, its last victory coming in overtime at Yale during the 2008 season. The Big Green has played two Ancient Eight foes at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., during that stretch, losing to Princeton and defeating Cornell. … Several Quakers wore the Boston area code 617 on their helmets Saturday, presumably in memory of that city’s Marathon bombing anniversary.

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