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Dartmouth men’s soccer stronger for the year away

  • Kristian Feed, left, practices a free kick over a wall formed by, from left, Patrick Murphy, Ohad Yahalom, Louis Weisdorf, Alex van Schalkwyk and Jordan Bailon during a Dartmouth men's soccer practice at Blackman Fields in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Freshman goalkeeper Dylan Buchanan throws the ball during a Dartmouth men's soccer practice at Blackman Fields in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

  • Head coach Bo Oshoniyi talks to players during a Dartmouth men's soccer practice at Blackman Fields in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/28/2021 9:24:05 PM
Modified: 8/28/2021 9:24:05 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College head men’s soccer coach Bo Oshoniyi thinks his team benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Big Green were apart for a full year and didn’t play in the spring while the rest of college soccer did. The team spent the year engaging with each other virtually, with lots of Zoom meetings and guest speakers. It was hard on everyone involved with the program.

But Oshoniyi said the players used the time to bond as a team. He’s seen improved chemistry since the team has returned, and he thinks Dartmouth is in line to reap the benefits of their off-the-field efforts.

“You see it every single day, the way they interact with each other,” Oshoniyi said. “I think it’s always easy to just look at the Xs and Os, but there’s so much more to a team than just what we do on the field. And I think we’re seeing exactly what we got out of our year and a half away from each other.

“We’re seeing a closer-knit group. We’re seeing a group that wants to go to war for each other, because we took the time in that year and a half to really get to know each other. I do think if we win an Ivy League championship this year, it’s gonna be won because of what we did during COVID.”

Despite their fifth-place ranking in the Ivy League preseason poll, the Big Green are eyeing a league title in Oshoniyi’s third season at the helm. Dartmouth won four straight Ivy championships under Chad Riley from 2014 to 2017 before Riley left for Notre Dame. The team will also aim for a return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017.

Oshoniyi made his expectations of a competitive season and contending for a 14th Ivy League title clear to his team. And his players have bought in.

“The goal for the team is to play really quality soccer and also just win an Ivy League championship,” senior midfielder Ohad Yahalom said. “I think we definitely have the group of guys to do that, and we’re going to push as hard as we can to do that.”

Alex Budnik, a second-team All-Ivy goalkeeper in 2019, returns to Dartmouth for his senior season. The Big Green also get senior defender Matt Pickering back for the first time since 2018, when he was a first-team All-Ivy selection. Pickering appeared in one match in 2019 before suffering an injury that cost him the rest of the season.

Oshoniyi will also lean on Yahalom, senior defender Jordan Bailon, fifth-year Patrick Murphy, junior forward David Alino and junior forward Alex van Schalkwyk, among others. Nobody on the 2021 roster scored more than one goal in 2019, but Oshoniyi said the team doesn’t think about that.

“We’re excited about the guys we have in,” Oshoniyi said. “Those guys, our juniors, were freshmen in 2019. So they’ve grown so much over the years. And then I love our senior class. We have a great, great senior class. We’ll find guys that find ways to get goals.”

Dartmouth faces a difficult non-conference schedule, with its first six games coming on the road. The Big Green open with a trip out west to face 2020 Elite Eight team Washington, along with Seattle. The Big Green return to New England to play UMass and UConn, then travel south to face 2019 national champions Georgetown, and then a matchup against Hartford. Dartmouth’s first home game is its Ivy League opener on Oct. 2 against Princeton.

“The first six games are tough,” Oshoniyi said. “I think every game’s important. We’re just going to take it one game at a time and then just be ready for Princeton. We want to make sure that we’re healthy and in the right mindset to get off on a good start in the Ivy League.”

Yahalom and Bailon both agree that a league championship, as well as an undefeated record at Burnham Field, would make this season successful. Bailon added that a good team culture will help everyone accomplish those feats.

Yahalom wants to entertain Dartmouth fans this season as well.

“It’s really about putting an output on the field that people enjoy watching as well,” Yahalom said. “So we hope that whenever we step out, we’re a fun team to watch and guys can get behind us.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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