To be the best, you’ve got to play the best. That is the mantra of successful collegiate sports programs, and the Colgate men’s lacrosse team is no different. With the best player in the program’s history, Brandon Corp, in his final season, Head Coach Jim Nagle recognized that his team had a chance to do something special. So Nagle did something special himself by compiling a schedule that is ranked by Laxpower.com as the eighth-toughest in the nation. Granted, this is partly because Colgate is slated to play conference foes No. 9 Navy, No. 20 Army and a Bucknell squad that gave Duke a run for its money last week, but Coach Nagle will certainly be presenting his team with tall tasks to meet outside the Patriot League.
A brutal three-game stretch awaits the Raiders starting on Friday, as they play teams that are all ranked in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. Colgate heads down south to play No. 7 Duke on Friday and No. 5 North Carolina on Sunday. Six days later, Colgate will travel to Baltimore to play No. 11 UMBC. Later in the year, Colgate will host No. 19 Ohio State and travel to the Carrier Dome for a match-up against No. 2 Syracuse.
Some people may look at this out-of-conference schedule and think five potential losses will be detrimental to Colgate’s NCAA Tournament chances. But playing in the Patriot League, the Raiders just need to win the league tournament to earn an automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Playing creampuffs all year isn’t going to help Colgate defeat the likes of Navy, Army or Bucknell late in the year. When asked about his schedule in an interview with Syracuse.com, Nagle said, “I don’t know how many we’ll win, but I believe it will make us a stronger team by the end of the season.”
The truth of the matter is this: It’s been a tough winter for Colgate sports. The recent surge by the women’s hockey team aside, sports teams have struggled in the past couple months. Colgate fans will have to stomach a couple early-season losses by the men’s lacrosse team as it faces the likes of Duke and North Carolina because by the end of the year, these early season challenges will have Colgate prepared. It’s not how you start, but how you finish.