P/sunny
86°
P/sunny
Hi 86° | Lo 62°

Lions Given A Savage Beating

Hanover — Dartmouth College field hockey forward Ali Savage tore apart the Columbia defense during a 6-2 victory Sunday, recording her fourth hat trick of the season and the sixth of her career while tying a pair of Big Green records.

The Australian junior is tied with 2003 Dartmouth graduate Rebekka Stucker on the season hat trick list and with 2012 graduate Kelly Hood on the career ladder. Savage finished with seven points, also assisting on Eliza Becker’s goal.

The Big Green trailed 1-0 in the first half and was tied 2-2 with 25 minutes remaining, but exploded for the contest’s last four tallies and improved to 6-8 overall and 2-3 in Ivy League play.

“We’ve learned a lot of lessons for the future that might not pay off for us this season, but we’ve gotten better overall,” Dartmouth coach Amy Fowler said. “If we’re on in the attacking end, like we were today, we have a very good chance of winning. We’ve had this in us, but we haven’t shown it until today, so I’m really proud of our team.”

Columbia (6-9, 2-3) took a 1-0 lead during the 14th minute, but Savage struck seven minutes before halftime and 33 seconds after the break. The Lions forged a 2-2 tie 10 minutes later, but defender Olivia Quaglia deflected in a shot following a penalty corner and after another five minutes for what proved to be the winning goal.

Savage completed her hat trick on an impressive individual effort with 15 minutes remaining. She burst down the right side, cut back inside a defender and flipped her stick over before stumbling and slicing a shot under the crossbar from her knees.

Becker drilled home a shot from the right side and off a penalty-corner feed 67 seconds later, bouncing up and down in celebration as if on a pogo stick. Quaglia closed the scoring on a similar play with three minutes to go, but from the top of the arc.

“We were consistently inconsistent earlier this year, and I’ve asked the players to really buckle down,” Fowler said.

Said Savage: “We have some great speed, but our decision-making before was limiting us from taking advantage of the options that gives us. Now we use the entire length and width of the field, and we give the ball-carrier two options at all times and really create a lot more offense.”

Dartmouth lost four of its first five games and six of its first nine before beating Massachusetts-Lowell and Maine in consecutive outings. Then came a contest at Yale, however, during which the Big Green led 3-2 before losing 4-3 on a Bulldogs tally with 25 seconds remaining.

During the soul-searching that followed, Fowler and her troops decided to redo the team’s preseason goals and tailor them for the season’s closing stretch.

“It’s almost like playoff time for us, even though playoffs aren’t an option for us,” Fowler said. “The players wanted to win out the rest of the way, which is a tall task, because everyone else we play is ranked ahead of us in the country. (Columbia) is 28th, and we’re 59th (out of 77 teams). But in our league, unless you’re (defending national champion Princeton), anyone can beat anyone else.”

Savage said that she and her teammates felt they needed to give themselves targets for which to aim in the coming weeks.

“The Yale loss was a tough one, and we needed something to focus on so we could move forward,” she said. “We’ve got something to hone in on during every training session and every game, and I think that’s been evident in our play lately.”

Dartmouth visits Harvard on Saturday before hosting New Hampshire the next day.

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