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The players of Dartmouth College might be forgiven for being a bit annoyed. The Big Green dominated Ivy League play during the fall, and were clearly the best team in the competition.
But the Ivy League, in its wisdom, sees fit to have a playoff anyway. The purpose is, in part, to link the fall and the spring with meaningful games, and also to perhaps showcase the #2 team in the league as worthy of an at-large bid to the national playoffs.
Regardless, though, Dartmouth is favored to win. Having come out of a spring break trip to the Cayman Islands that was a lot more rugby and a lot less beach time than you’d think, they are feeling confident.
“Playing in Cayman Islands was exactly what we needed,” said Dartmouth captain Paul Jarvis. “They had some big strong forwards and really challenged us. We were put under pressure and that’s what we wanted.”
Dartmouth went 2-1, beating the Cayman national team.
Looking ahead, now, Dartmouth takes on Harvard Saturday, while Brown plays tournament hosts Princeton.
There’s a 2nd tier playoff also, with Dartmouth’s 2nds playing Cornell and Princeton’s 2nds playing Penn.
Dartmouth’s core of experienced players, including Jarvis, All American lock Nate Brakely, Will Lehman and Derek Fish is assisted by a solid group of young players.
“We still have a relatively small senior class,” said Jarvis. “We have some players in leading roles, but the important thing is, this is a player-run club. There are lots of roles for players to take on. And it’s been really good to see some of the younger players do that.”
On the field, freshman and former High School All American Madison Hughes is one of a group of freshmen around the country making an impact.
“Obviously Maddy is a real star, but there are other guys too who have stepped up,” said Jarvis. “Our #1 job I think will be to make sure we’re the ones applying the pressure. We want to be in the driver’s seat. And if we’re not, we need to be patient and smart and put ourselves back in position to apply pressure on them, and distance how and where we play the game.”
Ivy League playoff schedule (held at Princeton)
Saturday April 14
12:00pm Dartmouth 1st XV v. Harvard 1st XV
2:00pm Cornell 1st XV v. Dartmouth 2nd XV
12:00pm Brown 1st XV v. Princeton 1st XV
2:00pm Penn 1st XV v. Princeton 2nd XV
Sunday April 15th
10:00am Group Two Championship
12:00pm Playoff Championship
10:00am Group Two 3rd Place
12:00pm Playoff 3rd Place