Men’s Soccer Drops League Opener

Mitch Waxman

The men’s soccer team has enjoyed a very successful beginning to the season, all while giving tough schools like Syracuse, Dartmouth and Boston University a run for their money while emerging with a solid 4-2-2 record before Colgate’s game with Holy Cross last Saturday. However, all those non-conference games essentially meant nothing as Colgate opened up its Patriot League schedule against the Crusaders on Van Doren Field. As defending Patriot League champions, the Raiders have a large target on their backs and that only adds to the importance of these contests.

From the beginning of Saturday night’s match on Van Doren Field the energy from both sides was palpable.

“Practice is a lot more intense the week of a league game. Everyone is a little more nervous right before the game, it’s a very different type of atmosphere,” senior starting goalkeeper David Cappuccio said.

Perhaps because of this, both teams played very tight first halves. Whenever either side seemed to have a break, it was almost always stymied by a strong defensive play. Nine total shots were attempted in the half, with the Raiders enjoying a one shot advantage. As the squads headed in for halftime the score remained scoreless.

As the second half began, the play seemed to pick up a little, especially for the Crusaders. Early in the half, they tested Cappuccio a couple times, but with each shot he was up to the challenge. Then in the 62nd minute, disaster struck for the Raider side. It had seemed like the Raiders had weathered the early storm and were starting to move the play to the other end of the field when a Holy Cross midfielder harmlessly sent the ball back towards the Colgate goal. But a miscommunication between Raider defenders allowed sophomore striker Matt Beckley to gain possession right at the edge of the 18-yard box. A surprised Cappuccio did not have time to react as the Beckley shot slid under him and into the goal.

“He got a few lucky bounces. It was a great individual effort by him, but I don’t that goal has anything to do with their great play. It was more of a fluke goal,” Cappuccio said.

Once the Crusaders had the lead Head Coach Elvis Comrie moved them into a very defensive formation. Holy Cross cleared the ball down the field any time they had the chance and when in possession they would take it into the corners, milking precious seconds off the clock.

“When they’re wasting time like that it’s really frustrating, but we would probably do the same thing in that type of situation,” Cappuccio said.

The Raiders had a couple threatening opportunities near the end, but ultimately Beckley’s goal stood up. The 1-0 loss snapped Colgate’s 13-game unbeaten streak on Van Doren Field, a streak that had stretched back to October 21, 2006.

“The style of the game was dictated by Holy Cross. We had a lot of the ball but were not getting good chances. The fact that the game was more of a midfield game was because of their style,” Cappuccio said.

After such a tough loss, the Raiders were itching to get back on the field, but their game against Hartwick that had been scheduled for last Tuesday was postponed due to poor field conditions. When Colgate next takes the field against Army tomorrow in West Point, it will have been nearly a week since their defeat to Holy Cross, but don’t think that victory won’t have them playing with a bit extra determination.

“We need to win against Army. Points on the road are really important, especially since we just lost at home,” Cappuccio said, “Everyone knows what they need to do to get a win.”

Colgate will then play the rescheduled game against Hartwick on Tuesday night.