Even though the Harvard men’s soccer team jumped out to an early lead, Dartmouth took advantage of three straight scores on its way to a 3-1 victory over the Crimson on Saturday afternoon in Hanover.
Despite the promising start for Harvard, the Big Green’s homecoming opponent, Dartmouth tied the game midway through the first half, and the match remained deadlocked until the Big Green scored twice late in the second half to seal the contest.
“[The loss] was obviously disappointing,” co-captain defender Richard Smith said. “Our gameplan was to come out and jump on them in the early part of the game, and we started to do that, getting a goal in the first 10 minutes. We were pretty happy with the first half performance, but in the second half we really didn’t get off the block.”
Sophomore Alex Adelabu led Dartmouth (8-6-0, 4-1-0 Ivy), contributing two goals along with an assist. Adelabu has put together consistent performances all season and ranks second in the Ivy League in both points and goals per game.
The Crimson’s only goal of the match came from freshman forward Jake Freeman in the ninth minute of play. Sophomore midfielder Matt Sheeleigh crossed the ball from the edge of the penalty box to Freeman, who curved a shot into the corner of the goal.
Freeman has been one of the main cogs of the Harvard offense this season. The freshman ranks second on the team in points and leads the squad in shots on goal with 16.
The Crimson (2-9-3, 0-4-1) held the lead until the Big Green tied the game in the 23rd minute, when Adelabu pounced on a rebound off a missed shot and dribbled the ball into the net.
Dartmouth struck twice more in the second half. Adelabu capitalized on a Harvard defensive mistake that led to a two-on-one break to notch an unassisted tally in the 77th minute, his ninth goal of the season.
“I thought we were playing a pretty good game until they scored the second goal,” sophomore forward Hiroki Kobayashi said. “[In] many of the games we’ve lost, we haven’t been able to get a second goal, and that kind of held us down. We need to score the second goal early in the game so we can stay in it.”
Just six minutes later, the Big Green put the game out of reach when freshman forward Alberto Gorini scored off a pass from Adelabu from the right side of the goal.
“It was disappointing to give up a very avoidable second goal on just an unfortunate series of events,” Smith said. “That kind of deflated us a little bit, and the third was kind of the last straw. We just really couldn’t come back from that. It was a disappointing second half performance.”
After the initial Crimson tally, Dartmouth controlled the flow of the rest of the game, outshooting Harvard 18 to six. The six shots were the Crimson’s third-lowest total on the year.
Harvard has come out strong in the opening minutes all season long but has been unable to maintain the intensity for the full length of matches.
In its last three losses, the Crimson has found itself tied at halftime only to surrender goals late in the game.
“We’ve managed to bring a good mentality in the beginning of games,” Smith said. “It’s very easy in the beginning of the game because you’re hyped up for it and you’re dialed in. For some reason, we haven’t been able to sustain that. There’s no easy answer for why that’s happening.”
With the win, the Big Green remained tied with Cornell for second place in the Ivy League, one point behind the leader Brown. Harvard, which sits in seventh place and has not won a conference game since the end of the 2010 season, will play its final home match this season next Saturday against Columbia.
The Crimson has had no shortage of close matches this season—11 of Harvard’s 14 games this season have either ended in a tie or have been decided by one goal.
“We’ve been on the wrong end of a few unfortunate results that we’ve probably deserved to win,” Smith said. “The main aim for the rest of the season is to continue to improve and hopefully get results from our hard work and effort.”