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Big Green Tries to Find the Right Road

  • Dartmouth College forward Ali Savage (7) knocks the ball past Bryant defender Makayla Hancock during the teams' Wednesday nonconference game at Chase Field. Members of the Big Green women's soccer team cheer in the background. The visiting Bulldogs won 4-2. Valley News - Tris Wykes

    Dartmouth College forward Ali Savage (7) knocks the ball past Bryant defender Makayla Hancock during the teams' Wednesday nonconference game at Chase Field. Members of the Big Green women's soccer team cheer in the background. The visiting Bulldogs won 4-2. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College's Maggie Scanlon, foreground, sweeps in the Big Green's first goal Wednesday during a 4-2 nonconference loss to visiting Bryant at Chase Field. Valley News - Tris Wykes<br/>

    Dartmouth College's Maggie Scanlon, foreground, sweeps in the Big Green's first goal Wednesday during a 4-2 nonconference loss to visiting Bryant at Chase Field. Valley News - Tris Wykes
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth College forward Ali Savage (7) knocks the ball past Bryant defender Makayla Hancock during the teams' Wednesday nonconference game at Chase Field. Members of the Big Green women's soccer team cheer in the background. The visiting Bulldogs won 4-2. Valley News - Tris Wykes
  • Dartmouth College's Maggie Scanlon, foreground, sweeps in the Big Green's first goal Wednesday during a 4-2 nonconference loss to visiting Bryant at Chase Field. Valley News - Tris Wykes<br/>

Hanover — The Dartmouth College field hockey team was left spinning its wheels after Wednesday’s 4-2 nonconference loss to Bryant. What the Big Green and coach Amy Fowler wouldn’t give for just a little more traction at just the right times.

“We’re actually not playing that poorly through the midfield, and we’re putting good passing combinations together and working hard enough,” the 14-year bench boss said. “But even though there’s a lot going well for us between the (25-yard lines), we’re really struggling in both (ends) right now.”

The result dropped Dartmouth to 1-4 overall, while Bryant improved to 7-1 by beating its third Ivy League foe of the season. The Bulldogs have also topped Brown and Harvard, neither of which is a traditional Ancient Eight title contender.

The Big Green hasn’t claimed an Ivy crown since 1988 and was routed in this year’s league opener against defending national champion and sixth-ranked Princeton. Dartmouth finished second in the Ivies last year and has posted three consecutive seasons with double-digit victories, but that streak appears in jeopardy. The league slate resumes Saturday with a game at Brown (3-3, 0-1).

Bryant, which has won seven consecutive games and which posted its first victory ever over Dartmouth in six tries, opened the scoring seven minutes before halftime on the rebound of a shot generated by a penalty corner. The visitors went up 2-0 five minutes later when a turnover by the Big Green’s Tabby Sabky created a 2-on-1 break that goaltender Ellen Meyer couldn’t smother.

“We were being outshot, outcornered and outhustled,” Fowler said. “Why does it take 2-0 to wake us up? If you want to play from behind all the time and you’re resilient, good for you. But so far, we haven’t found a way to get out of that hole.”

Dartmouth’s Maggie Scanlon scored at the left post after a goalmouth scramble just 28 seconds later and a minute before intermission, but Bryant tallied twice in three minutes midway through the second half for a 4-1 lead. Olivia Quaglia had the Big Green’s second goal, striking with six minutes remaining.

Meyer had four saves while her Bulldogs’ counterpart, Megan Hancock, stopped 10 shots. Dartmouth had 12 penalty corners to Bryant’s six and held a 17-15 shot advantage, but has been outscored 23-9 this fall.

“I’m running out of postgame speeches,” Fowler said. “I can’t rip into them about how we have so much to fix. But what we do have to fix are the little things that make a big difference on the scoreboard.”

Dartmouth also began 1-4 last year, although the victory was an upset of a strong Massachusetts squad. The Big Green righted the ship with a narrow defeat of Bryant that began a string of five consecutive victories and led to triumphs in nine of its next 10 games. The final mark of 11-6 overall and 4-1 in the Ivies is one Fowler would surely take again this season.

“We give up a lot of soft goals where the ball trickles in, or it’s on a third shot that shouldn’t be taken,” the coach said. “On offense … sometimes we move with speed and urgency, but we don’t know what to do with the ball. Sometimes we go right into a tackle you can see coming five minutes away. Or we see that the goalkeeper’s laying on the ground and we sweep (a shot) right into her.”

Dartmouth lost three key contributors to graduation but Quaglia, a senior defender, and Ali Savage, a junior forward, are returning All-Ivy selections and Meyer played solidly in 12 games last year. This year’s midfield features experienced players and onetime prospects such as juniors Rebecca Hu and Janine Leger, but something’s not working.

“I feel very confident in our personnel and a lot of these kids have a lot of experience,” Fowler said. “We have impact players who are trying to make a difference, but there are things breaking down when we try and score and when we defend. It’s not all negative, but we’re in a hole and it’s not easy when you’ve had that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with winning only one time.”

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

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