Despite Loss to Bucknell, Field Hockey Headed to Playoffs

Amanda Gilmore

The Colgate field hockey team can finally stop and take a breath. Despite the Raiders’ 4-3 loss last weekend to league rival Bucknell University, the Raiders have finally clinched a berth to November’s Patriot League tournament. Officially, there is no way that fifth place Holy Cross or last place Lehigh can eclipse Colgate in the standings for a top-four spot, which secures a Patriot League Tournament bid, because Colgate has a higher overall winning percentage than both schools, which would be the definitive tiebreaker in a tiebreaking situation in this particular case to determine who goes to the tournament.

Colgate started off slow against Bucknell, trailing in shots, corner plays and goals by the halftime break. The Raiders allowed the Bison to head into intermission with a 2-0 lead.

Still slow to get into the mix of things after the break, Colgate finally got onto the board just over 15 minutes into the second half when senior midfielder Lauren Carey fed a pass in the circle to sophomore forward Laura Denenga, who put the ball away for the score. Just 75 seconds later, junior forward Katelyn Nerbonne tied the game up at two all when she tallied her fourth goal of the season. Colgate and Bucknell would go on to trade goals once again tying the game up at three on scores 69 seconds apart around the 65th minute mark. The Raider’s tally came off a corner play set up by senior midfielder Maddie Watrobski and junior midfielder Mika Ella-Tang, which was finished by Carey. Just as it appeared the game would be headed into an overtime period, Bucknell struck with 1:17 remaining. This goal would prove to hold up as the game-winner, ending the match in a 4-3 decision in favor of the Bison.

“It would have been nice to get the win at Bucknell which would have automatically sent us to the Patriot League Tournament, rather than relying on another team’s win or loss,” explained senior co-captain Kaley Zaharris. “But the fact is, we are headed to the playoffs for the second year in a row which is a great accomplishment for this team and program. Going to the tournament in back-to-back years is something this program has not done for awhile, so we are very proud to be a part of that. Luckily we have two weeks to prepare for the playoffs and the focus right now is on staying healthy and remaining on task, as well as ending the season with a win at Lafayette.”

Colgate has its last league game at Lafayette on Saturday at noon. Regardless of the game’s outcome, both teams will be present at the league’s tournament, which will be held at American University on November 7-8. American, who stands alone in the league’s rankings in first place, and second place Lafayette College were the first two teams to have secured their spots in postseason play. The final spot in the tournament is still up for grabs. Bucknell will get it with a win, and Holy Cross gets it with a win and a Colgate win over Lafayette. The Raiders can finish as high as second place or as low as fourth place, and they will face either American or Lafayette in the first round of the playoffs, so Saturday’s game may be foreshadowing of things to come.