Each week, DartmouthSports.com will spotlight two outstanding student-athletes - one male, one female - as Dartmouth's Athletes of the Week. Student-athletes may be chosen based upon their efforts both on and off the field of competition.
For September 15, the choice was clear as our honorees have captained their teams to a combined 6-1-1 start. Men's soccer junior captain Daniel Keat (Wellington, New Zealand) leads the fifth-ranked Big Green with four goals during a 3-0-1 start. Women's soccer senior captain Myra Sack (Wynnewood, Pa.) has the Big Green off to a 3-1 start, including a tournament title at the Nike Virginia Classic.
Athlete of the Week:
Daniel Keat has done it all for his nationally ranked Dartmouth squad (3-0-1), scoring a team-best four goals in four games to date, including game-winners over St. Peter's and Rhode Island. This past weekend, Keat ran the midfield in a 0-0 double-overtime tie with perennial power #18 UConn and scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Rhode Island to secure the 2009 Hypertherm Classic at Dartmouth championship. He was named the tournament's Offensive MVP while contributing to a tremendous defensive showing as well. Keat's play has helped the Big Green remain unscored upon in its first four games of the season. Perhaps most impressively, Keat has done all this after having missed the entire 2008 season with a knee injury that also sidelined him from representing New Zealand in the 2008 Olympics. DartmouthSports.com caught up with Keat to discuss the season thus far and look ahead to the Big Green's upcoming weekend at the University of San Diego Tournament.
Talk a bit about your play and the team overall this past weekend: We were disappointed to not win on Friday [against UConn] and maybe I could have had a goal there, but Sunday showed the depth of our team. We only had three players that started on Friday start on Sunday. On Sunday, I scored on two set pieces that we practice a bit and I take time practicing, so it's nice to have that pay off. The opportunity was there and I was happy to take it.
How important was the depth showed in Sunday's win: It's good, especially when we have two games in a weekend. The guys that played 110 minutes on Friday against UConn were pretty tired, so knowing that we can have a group of guys play on Sunday and have no problems getting the result is huge for us. It keeps everyone happy on the team and it's great for our confidence going forward to know that people can step up if we get any injuries.
Is this season sweeter after returning from injury: Yeah it's been a long wait to get back on the field, but this is what I love doing. It's exciting and you don't take anything for granted after having that much time off. Each game is special and getting to honor Dartmouth is good; I enjoy wearing the uniform.
Dartmouth has had four home games with 1,000+ fans. How does great support from the fans affect the team: It's huge for us. We enjoy coming out and playing in front of a big crowd. Even though most of the campus isn't back yet, we've had great support from the local community and the students that have been here. I think everyone enjoys it and it helps us get up for games knowing that there are a thousand people in the stands enjoying the game. It's a hard place to come play, and that's the way it should be. We've only lost two games since we started playing at Burnham Field. It's kind of a fortress for us and those fans play a huge part in it.
What's the team mindset heading into the weekend: We're full of confidence and looking for a couple of wins this weekend. Regardless of what rankings or anything else say, we know how good we are as a team and there's no one out there that we feel scared of. We're pretty confident going out to San Diego and getting a couple of good results. And looking forward to the sunshine.
Athlete of the Week:
Coming off a first-team All-Northeast season as a junior, Myra Sack has picked up where she left off this fall. As the centerpiece of Dartmouth's midfield, Sack has led the Big Green to a 3-1 start including wins over Maine, Seton Hall and #12 West Virginia, scoring a goal against Maine. This past weekend, she picked up Virginia Nike Classic Tournament MVP honors after leading the Big Green to the tournament title with a pair of 1-0 shutout wins. Sack garnered attention on the national scale this week, earning spots on both the Top Drawer Soccer and Soccer America National Teams of the Week. Off the field, Sack is the co-founder of Athletes United, an Upper Valley youth sports initiative and a volunteer for Soccer Without Borders. She was recently named a national nominee for the prestigious Lowe's Senior Class Award, which recognizes excellence in competition, classroom, community and character. DartmouthSports.com caught up with Sack to discuss the season to date and preview the Big Green's continuing road swing at the Oregon State Tournament this weekend.
Can you look back at the season so far and talk about your play and the team's: This past weekend both games were so different. We played Seton Hall on Friday and honestly looked awful in the first half, but we all gutted it out - our backs and Colleen Hogan in goal especially. That win was sloppy but we got the job done. Sunday we were more than up for the game. We knew West Virginia was going to be a good team and highly ranked and we came into it with a lot of confidence. I knew I was playing against a highly-esteemed player so I was up for the challenge and we played together, stuck to the game plan and had a lot more opportunities than I think we initially though.
How hard was it to play an overtime game Friday and then face such a quality opponent on Sunday: It actually seemed like we had a lot more legs on Sunday which was strange! We knew we didn't play up to our potential Friday and we'd come off the unlucky heartbreaker to San Diego State so we had a lot of incentive and energy for WVU.
Talk about the effort defensively to get two shutouts: The defense has been great. On Sunday we really played as a midfield, whichever three of us were in. The backs played as a back four unit, no one was off on her own.
What do your long road trips do for the team mentality: On our trip to Virginia we got pretty into watching Gossip Girl. But all the time together, travel and being at the hotel with not much else to do helped an already close team get closer.
What's the pulse of the team heading into the trip to Oregon: We want to build from here and we don't want the West Virginia game to be seen as an upset. The Oregon tournament now is even bigger than it was before for us because it's two more opportunities to show everyone that we're very good. Everyone is so ready to play again, play tomorrow, anywhere.