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Green’s Gears Grind to the Good

Dartmouth Gets Key League Win

  • Dartmouth’s Courtney Bennett, left, competes for possession with Cornell’s Sarah Heffner during the Big Green’s win yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Dartmouth’s Courtney Bennett, left, competes for possession with Cornell’s Sarah Heffner during the Big Green’s win yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth’s Sydney Ellis, right, tries to recover a loose ball with pressure from Cornell’s Lindsay Toppe, center, during the Big Green’s lacrosse win yesterday. Dartmouth’s Kelsey Johnson is at left. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Dartmouth’s Sydney Ellis, right, tries to recover a loose ball with pressure from Cornell’s Lindsay Toppe, center, during the Big Green’s lacrosse win yesterday. Dartmouth’s Kelsey Johnson is at left. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth’s Courtney Bennett, left, competes for possession with Cornell’s Sarah Heffner during the Big Green’s win yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Dartmouth’s Sydney Ellis, right, tries to recover a loose ball with pressure from Cornell’s Lindsay Toppe, center, during the Big Green’s lacrosse win yesterday. Dartmouth’s Kelsey Johnson is at left. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Hanover — During yesterday’s Dartmouth College women’s lacrosse game against visiting Cornell, a Big Red supporter leaned against the front railing of the Scully-Fahey Field stands and cupped his hands to his ears in an attempt to listen in on the Big Green’s huddles. Whatever tactical plans the man might have picked up apparently weren’t passed on to his team, for the hosts scored four of the game’s last five goals during a 9-5 victory.

Now hear this: Dartmouth is 8-3 overall and 4-0 in Ivy League play, placing the Big Green in three-way tie atop the Ancient Eight standings and heading into a challenging three games against defending league champion Pennsylvania, No. 1 Maryland and No. 14 Princeton. The Quakers and Tigers share the Ivy lead with Dartmouth.

“I felt this was a real must-win because we’re hitting the heart of the Ivy schedule,’’ said Big Green coach Amy Patton. “This is a gut-check stretch for us, and I love April, because that’s when we start to peak. We hadn’t hit our stride yet, and today we played much more of a complete game.”

Hana Bowers and Sarah Byrne each scored twice and Bowers came up with five draw controls, but the game’s star was Dartmouth goaltender Kristen Giovanniello. The junior was the Ivy League tournament’s most outstanding player last spring and is heating up once again. With the Big Green leading 5-4 during yesterday’s second half, No. 33 made five consecutive saves, including one on which she deflected a ball high and away with her right shin.

“Big ice packs, for sure,” Giovanniello said with a laugh, when asked how she’d be nursing her body last night. “I got off to a slow start this season, and I’ve been working with Amy a lot before practice. It’s about time I got things into gear.”

Said Patton: “She finally looked a lot more relaxed than she has in some of the previous games. She was seeing the ball really well from the start, and her head was right behind it when she was making those saves. Our defense did a good job of putting pressure on them when they were shooting, but KG had some phenomenal saves today.”

Dartmouth trailed 2-1 before leading 5-2 at intermission. Cornell, however, scored the second half’s first two goals and trailed 5-4 with 24 minutes remaining. Patton called a timeout to try and fix her team’s clearing game, which got the ball across the midfield line just eight out of 13 times during the second half.

“I thought that was the turning point of the game,’’ Patton said of the timeout. “We changed the momentum and got a couple goals right afterwards, and it was really awesome to see that kind of response. Once they got the confidence back in (clearing), then Hana took control of the attack, along with Liz (Calby) and (Lindsey) Allard. They started to go at a different speed, to take it up a notch.”

Giovanniello said her squad’s ability to impose its will on Cornell after struggling for a stretch bodes well for the coming weeks.

“This season, we’ve struggled with pulling the momentum back when it hasn’t been going our way,’’ the goaltender said. “Today, we did a really great job of coming out of the timeout and executing the changes we needed to do. Our team is so connected, we can push each other, and we find a way to do it together rather than individually.”

Another key to the game was No. 18 Dartmouth’s 8-0 advantage on draw controls during the final 30 minutes.

“That’s the second half right there, and it’s phenomenal that we could have that kind of grit to come up with that many balls,’’ Patton said. “It’s a little bit of a brawl in there, with a lot of people and bodies and sticks. For us to come out with the ball shows a lot of desire.”

Cornell, which began the season with a six-game winning streak, lost its fourth consecutive contest. Dartmouth won for the fourth time in its last five games and posted its seventh consecutive triumph over the No. 16 Big Red (6-4, 2-3).

Notes: Cornell’s last victory during the teams’ series was in 2008, and its last victory in Hanover came in 1984, giving Dartmouth 13 consecutive home victories against the Big Red. … The Big Green beat Cornell twice last year, 12-10 in Ithaca, N.Y., and 9-8 in the Ivy League tournament semifinals in Philadelphia. … The Big Green leads the teams’ series, 30-6. … Bowers has scored multiple goals in 14 consecutive games, dating back to last season.

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

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