Dartmouth Welcomes Scotland to the 'Woods' for Fall Ball Scrimmage

COURTESY OF DARTMOUTH ATHLETICS


A saying around Dartmouth’s campus is “Welcome to the Woods.”

The stage was set in Hanover, New Hampshire on Wednesday for not your typical fall scrimmage.

The Big Green welcomed Team Scotland to the woods for their fall opener, which was also part of Scotland’s New England tour to prepare for the 2023 World Lacrosse World Championships in San Diego.

After a bit of a slow start which saw Dartmouth score just six goals by halftime, the Big Green exploded for nine third-quarter goals and 14 in the second half on the way to a 20-2 win.

“I think with so many new guys out here for the fall and so many guys out for today, it took us a little bit to get going,” said Dartmouth head coach Brendan Callahan. “What really happened today was the accumulation of faceoff wins. When you play that well and you have that many possessions, it started to overwhelm them. They had to play a lot of defense and we were able to pull away.”

Callahan pointed back to the Big Green’s entire junior class, which was unable to suit up for competition in the fall. That’s because in the summer of sophomore year, Dartmouth students take classes on campus, but in turn, are not enrolled in the ensuing fall term. They are allowed to train with the team, but cannot participate in any fall games due to NCAA regulations.

It didn’t matter on Wednesday.

Colin McGill finished with seven points behind five goals and two assists. Brandon Ventarola scored three goals and dished three assists. Vincent Gandolfo won 16-of-19 faceoffs while Mitch Myers, last season’s first team All-Ivy League faceoff specialist, won six of the seven he took.

“Brandon was a defensive midfielder for us last year, now playing some offense, so it was good to see him get going,” Callahan said. “Our guy down low, Colin McGill is a left-handed goal scorer who can really shoot the ball and make plays. A lot of what we’re trying to do is find ways to get him the ball in space. He was able to capitalize once he got some of the shooting rust off from the first few possessions.”

Three of McGill’s goals came in the second quarter, along with an assist to Ventarola in the final seconds of the first half. That set the stage for the nine-goal third quarter.

“It was awesome to have guys come from Scotland to get some gameplay in,” Ventarola said. “We started off a little slowly, with a couple unforced turnovers. Offensively, we weren’t moving the ball too well. In the second half, we came out firing, swinging the ball more and hitting singles. Everything opened up from there.”

Along with the offensive output, Dartmouth’s defense kept Team Scotland off the board until the final five minutes of the fourth.







“I was excited to see Mason Morel, our sophomore goalie, step up,” Callahan said. “He has big shoes coming in for Danny Hincks, who’s been a starter for us for four years. Between him and Sam Cooper, those guys almost pitching a shutout was really good to see from the goaltending position.”

Callahan was also impressed with Andrew Johnston, a 2021 All-Ivy League defenseman.

“Andrew was dominant down low. He’s so long and athletic,” Callahan said. “It’s really tough to get away from him. That close defense group played together towards the end of last year and they’ve really gelled.”

Meanwhile, Scotland is looking to gel, as the team simulates the format of the World Lacrosse Championships.

Scotland’s tour included games against Team Jamaica, Southern New Hampshire, Rivier, Dartmouth, Bentley and St. Anslem, in five different locations, all in the span of six days.

Despite the result for Team Scotland against the Big Green, it was a worthwhile experience in the ultimate quest to improve ahead of the World Championships.

“Right now, we’re in the evaluative phase, so we have a training squad of about 68 guys, 31 of whom have actually come on this tour,” said Scotland head coach Matt Bagley. “They’re volunteering — they’re paying for themselves to be here. Dartmouth hands down is bigger, stronger and faster than we are and we’ve got eight months to try to get bigger, faster and stronger as well. Hopefully we can.”

After the game, the teams enjoyed their postgame meal together in a truly unique opportunity for Dartmouth to welcome an international team to its campus.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to have an experience like this,” Callahan said. “For our guys to see what they’re doing to get ready for the world championships, and us getting to be a little part of their journey, it’s something special.”

Callahan hopes Wednesday was only the start for the Big Green, a program that’s improving despite it not always showing in their record. Last season, Dartmouth lost by a total of three goals to Cornell and Princeton – a pair of Final Four teams. The Big Green also lost by just four to Penn, a top eight national seed.

“I believe this year’s team has a chance to be really good defensively,” said Callahan. “A tough, hard-nosed mindset is the way we want to play from the defense out, and then be able to push the ball a little bit more than we have. It has been really exciting to see our poles come together. It’s a super talented group and with our goalies making saves, I think that will be the anchor for us.”

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