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Big Green Caught In a Deep Freeze

  • Dartmouth College attackman Jack McCormick maintains control of the ball as he falls to the turf Tuesday in front of Vermont's Ahmad Zachary. The Big Green fell to 0-2 this season with its 13-8, nonconference loss in Burlington. Valley News - Tris Wykes

    Dartmouth College attackman Jack McCormick maintains control of the ball as he falls to the turf Tuesday in front of Vermont's Ahmad Zachary. The Big Green fell to 0-2 this season with its 13-8, nonconference loss in Burlington. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College players Timmy Burke, left, and Christian Guinchard, warm their hands at a sideline heater Tuesday during their team's 13-8 loss at Vermont. Temperatures were in the teens during the nonconference clash. Valley News - Tris Wykes

    Dartmouth College players Timmy Burke, left, and Christian Guinchard, warm their hands at a sideline heater Tuesday during their team's 13-8 loss at Vermont. Temperatures were in the teens during the nonconference clash. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College attackman Jack McCormick maintains control of the ball as he falls to the turf Tuesday in front of Vermont's Ahmad Zachary. The Big Green fell to 0-2 this season with its 13-8, nonconference loss in Burlington. Valley News - Tris Wykes
  • Dartmouth College players Timmy Burke, left, and Christian Guinchard, warm their hands at a sideline heater Tuesday during their team's 13-8 loss at Vermont. Temperatures were in the teens during the nonconference clash. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Burlington — Players from both sides periodically huddled around portable heaters Tuesday during the Dartmouth College men’s lacrosse team’s game against Vermont. The wheeled, tubular devices provided short-term relief from temperatures in the high teens, but the Big Green never really caught fire during a 13-8 nonconference loss at Virtue Field.

The result was disheartening for the visitors, who fell to 0-2 this season after absorbing an 18-5 pounding at No. 3 North Carolina last weekend. UVM, which had lost its two previous games by a combined 21-9 count, took advantage of a shorthanded Dartmouth roster, but fifth-year Big Green coach Andy Towers wasn’t willing to use his team’s numerous injuries as an excuse.

“The outcome was dictated by how hard Vermont came to play,” said Towers, whose team trailed 8-5 at halftime. “They took it to us and that’s a credit to them. Our guys played harder today than down in North Carolina. They were less wide-eyed. But that’s not why we lost the game today.”

Dartmouth led 1-0 and 2-1 before forging a 3-3 tie, but trailed the rest of the way. Vermont broke that deadlock with back-to-back goals and scored six of the eight goals following it to beat the Big Green for the first time in five tries. The visitors pulled within 9-7 during the third quarter, but then surrendered three consecutive goals and four of the game’s final five tallies.

“We beat them in ground balls (49-29) and faceoffs (14-11) but they brought a lot of energy and we had some key turnovers, both on the defensive and offensive ends,” said Dartmouth midfielder Patrick Resch, a senior who missed much of last season with a broken jaw. “It’s tough getting right off the bus and playing, but that’s part of the game.”

Dartmouth starters sidelined by injuries include seniors Austin Cohen, Brendan Rotanz and Jeff Perkins and juniors Adam Fishman, Mike Muller and Adam Hull. Backup faceoff man Kreig Greco, a freshman, is also down, so junior Phil Hession has taken all but two of his team’s 52 faceoffs, winning 23.

Goaltending, one of Dartmouth’s strengths the past few years, is now an unproven quality. Sophomore Blair Friedensohn beat out freshman Jake Landman after playing only two minutes last spring, but didn’t get much help in the opener and allowed five goals on nine shots Tuesday before being pulled. Towers said the Phillips Exeter product injured a shoulder at North Carolina and was limited by it at UVM.

The Big Green started two freshmen, three sophomores, two juniors and three seniors Tuesday, but 10 of the 11 players who came off the bench were underclassmen. The visitors’ inexperience and diminutive stature figured into UVM’s game plan, said Catamounts defenseman Calder Billings.

“We talked all week about being physical with them because they’re a really small team,” said Billings, a junior and a Woodstock native. “Taking advantage of our size was important and once we got up by a few goals, we were able to use that to shut the door on them. Their attack is young and it was nice to be able to show them that college is definitely different than high school.”

Resch said facing older foes with a rookie-loaded roster has been challenging.

“The biggest thing is getting these guys used to the speed of the game,” he said. “We have to work on keeping our practices fast and game-like and hopefully, that will bring the young guys along. Being able to make decisions on the fly, instead of having to think about it, is something that only comes with experience.”

Dartmouth held a 40-30 shot advantage, but scored on only 1-of-6 man-up chances. UVM goaltender Justin Rosenberg made 13 saves.

The Big Green’s scoring leaders were senior attackman Mike Olentine and sophomore midfielder Billy Heidt, each with two goals. Jack McCormick, Resch and K.C. Beard each had a goal and an assist.

“We have guys out, but I feel like we also have guys behind them who are very capable and it’s my job to get them ready to play,” said Towers, whose team faces Sacred Heart in Dallas as part of the Patriot Cup event on Saturday. “This one is on me, and I told the guys that in the locker room.”

Notes: About half of Dartmouth’s players wore leggings under their shorts, while the Catamounts all went bare. ... The Big Green opens Ivy play at Harvard on March 22 and doesn’t play the first of its four home games until a week after that, when Cornell comes to town. Towers said getting nonconference opponents to visit Hanover is difficult. ... Dartmouth leads its series with UVM, 18-5. … The Catamounts led last year’s game in Hanover, 5-0, before collapsing in a 13-8 loss and finishing the season 4-10. Eighth-year coach Ryan Curtis is 29-77 overall and 8-27 in the America East Conference. … Towers’ record at Dartmouth is 18-39 overall and 5-19 in Ivy League action… Billings’ brother, Nate, is a senior goaltender with the Catamounts. … Former Hanover High standout Gunnar Shaw, a current Dartmouth senior, has left the lacrosse program after a succession of injuries, but freshman midfielder Jesse Brown is a onetime Marauder. ... UVM’s 37-man roster includes four Vermont natives.

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