Raiders Fall to Navy But Qualify For PL Tourney

Mike LeClair

Colgate headed into the final weekend of the regular season with its postseason destiny in their hands. A win or draw against Navy would ensure qualification to the Patriot League tournament. However, thanks to Bucknell’s early afternoon win over American, 2-1 in Lewisburg, the Raiders could play their late-afternoon affair against Navy with a Patriot League Tournament berth in ther back pockets. However, a second seed in the Patriot League Tournament was still at stake for Colgate. But winning over Navy is no easy task, however, as the Midshipmen strolled onto Van Doren Field undefeated in the conference.

Colgate’s defense of its home field did not start off well. After just over 14 minutes, a Navy free kick flew deep into Colgate’s penalty area, meeting the head of Navy’s senior midfielder Julie Reynolds. Her carefully placed header floated over Colgate first-year goalkeeper Rebecca Michlin, settling into the back of the net to give Navy a 1-0 advantage early on. Since Navy needed a win to guarantee the right to host the Patriot League Tournament, the Midshipmen were more than happy to sit back and defend their slim advantage through halftime, doing so successfully.

Navy came out slightly more aggressive in the second half, but always with an eye for its own backline, not wanting to concede a cheap goal and lose its top seed for the conference tournament. Regardless, the Midshipmen managed five shots(three on goal) in the half, forcing three saves from Michlin. Colgate, in desperate need of the equalizing goal, could not muster any offense, taking only two shots in the half, only managing to put one on frame. Colgate had one dangerous opportunity to steal some of the points from the match late. Junior midfielder Jillian Arnault, Colgate’s resident free kick specialist, nearly gave the Raiders their first goal of the match with just under two minutes remaining, but her free kick flew inches past the far post, condemning Colgate to a 1-0 defeat and earning Navy the regular season title.

Colgate, the proud owners of four conference wins and 12 points, has earned qualification to the conference tournament for the first time since 2006. With the fourth seed, the Raiders have earned an immediate rematch with Navy in the first round of the postseason.

Colgate’s quality play throughout the season was rewarded and recognized soon after the close of the regular season, as six players were named to the All-Patriot League teams. Arnault was the lone Raider on the first team, while senior forward and Captain Josie Johnson, first-year midfielder Danielle Wessler, sophomore defender Calista Victor, and junior midfielders Liz Polido and Jessica Bitsack were named to the all-conference second team. The selection of six Raiders to all-conference teams is an impressive haul, and it is the first time that many players have been recognized since 1995.

If Colgate wins its Friday afternoon match with Navy, the Raiders will play the winner of the Bucknell/Army match on Sunday afternoon in the Finals.