Big Green Gets a Head Start
Dartmouth Earns First NCAA Victory Since ’06
Syracuse, n.y. — The threat of inclement weather moved up the start time from 4 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., but that did little to mess with the game-day routine of the Dartmouth College women’s lacrosse team as it took on 19th-ranked Boston College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament yesterday afternoon at Syracuse University Soccer Stadium.
When the final horn sounded, the sky was clear, the sun was out and the Big Green had punched its ticket to the second round with an 11-8 victory. For Dartmouth, the win sets up a meeting with fourth-seeded Syracuse, the regional host, tomorrow at 3 p.m.
A mixture of youth and experience proved to be the right combination for the Big Green yesterday as freshman Jaclyn Leto and sophomore Sarah Byrne posted career highs with four goals each. Junior goalkeeper Kristen Giovanniello turned aside a season-high 12 shots.
“Our defense played stellar today and Kristen had a phenomenal game, her best of the year,” Dartmouth coach Amy Patton said after the win. “We have to be better on the draws, but when we had it on attack, we were getting really good looks at goals and were finishing.
“The difference for Sunday, and moving forward, is we have to be cleaner with our turnovers and do a better job on the draw.”
The win was the Big Green’s first in the NCAA Tournament in nearly seven years, dating back to a 14-8 national semifinal victory over Notre Dame on May 26, 2006 that sent the Big Green to the title game against Northwestern.
“In the pregame speech, I told the team that we had set our goals for the year and this was the last one left. We didn’t win the Ivy League championship, we didn’t host the league tournament and we didn’t win the Ivy tournament,” Patton said. “This was one of our goals, not only get into the NCAA Tournament, but to win NCAA Tournament games. Today was special for our seniors who didn’t want to leave without having accomplished any of those goals this year.”
Despite five tallies from sophomore Covie Stanwick, the Eagles were unable to overcome the timely offense and swarming defense of the Big Green on the grass field, the home of Syracuse’s soccer teams.
The result was nothing new in the all-time series between the two programs, as Dartmouth improved its record against BC to 19-0.
The attack usually runs through the sticks of junior Liz Calby and senior Hana Bowers, but with the emergence of Leto and Byrne yesterday, the two upperclassmen were not the main focal point in the offensive end. However, Calby did manage to score twice and assisted on two Leto goals, while Bowers netted her 49th of the season midway through the opening half.
After Penn scored five of its 10 goals on the free-position shot last Sunday in Philadelphia, the Big Green responded with an outstanding job of defense with BC on the eight-meter arc.
“All we’ve been doing the last week is working on eight meters and that has helped her (Giovanniello) confidence as she has been pelted with a lot of those shots,” Patton remarked of her team’s job limiting the Eagles to just a 3-for-10 showing with the open look.
Dartmouth will next play Syracuse, a team that eliminated the Green from the 2012 NCAA tourney with a 15-5 victory last May. Three hundred and sixty-four days later, Patton and the Big Green will look to improve on that effort with another shot at the Orange.
“Some of the things we didn’t do well today will need to be better on Sunday,” the 21st-year coach said.
“They have a lot of weapons and a lot of speed. They’re a great team, but we have been able to beat great teams before. When we have won those games, we’ve played really clean and that’s what we have to do again if we want to have a similar outcome.”