Men’s Soccer’s Winning Streak Comes to Halt

Mitch Waxman

Last week, the men’s soccer team was riding high after a three-game winning streak that had seen them shut out each opponent. Their next two games were against lowly Navy and perennial powerhouse Duke However, Colgate was only able to scratch out a 1-1 draw with the Midshipmen before losing 1-0 to Duke down in Durham.

When Colgate and Navy took the field, conditions were not exactly ideal for play. Rain was falling while hard, driving winds reached gusts of forty miles per hour. Obviously the weather was just as much an issue for the Raiders as it was for Navy, but the extreme weather blurred the talent disparity between two teams.

The game started out well for the Raiders, as they had a couple of chances on Navy goaltender Nolan Grebb until junior midfielder/ defenseman Chris Ross was able to cash in during the 23rd minute. The defenseman marking Ross slipped in the box, and alert sophomore forward Stephen Miller was able to find the open midfielder who deposited the shot inside the left post.

“The goal happened so quickly it was like a blur,” Ross said. “The wind caught the ball and looped it around the goaltender.”

This goal did nothing to slow down the Midshipmen, as they garnered a couple solid chances in the opening frame, including one shot from senior Mike Porcelli that rocked off the right post. However the score remained 1-0 heading into halftime.

In the second half, Navy kept up its relentless pressure on the Raiders, pushing for that equalizing goal. However the Raiders defense stood up strong for the majority of the half, parrying each Midshipmen attempt and allowing Colgate to create a couple strong chances themselves. Just when the game seemed to be destined for a 1-0 finish, disaster struck for the Raiders in the 85th minute. After a failed clearing attempt by Colgate, a cross was sent into the box where the aforementioned Porcelli, who had narrowly missed a goal in the first half, headed the ball into the back of the net.

The Navy goal seemed to shock Colgate a little bit, as the Raiders came on strong for the remainder of the game and both the overtime periods, outshooting Navy 5-0 in that span. Unfortunately the Raiders couldn’t finish any of these opportunities, and the game finished 1-1.

Only getting a point from the last-ranked team in the Patriot League definitely hurt, but looking at the disparity in the final numbers and realizing that Colgate didn’t win is even more shocking. The Raiders out shot the Midshipmen 16-6, had 12 corner kicks to Navy’s two and were only whistled for 7 fouls while Navy had 32. But what matters most is the score, and that was only 1-1.

“After the game we were very disappointed,” Ross said. “Honestly the game was quite comparable to a loss. We failed to capitalize… this didn’t help us in the point standings at all.”

The big matchup with Duke wasn’t going to disappear just because the Colgate winning streak had ended, and so the Raiders flew down to North Carolina for the big test.

“There was a strong sense we were the underdogs in this game, but we were excited to show that we could play on a national level,” Ross said.

The game was truly an up and down affair, as both teams took turns dominating the play. Duke was the first to take control of the game, as they had the ball at their feet through the first half of the opening frame, narrowly missing that final pass that would have sprung them free for a shot on goal. At about the 20th minute Colgate seemed to find their footing in the contest and the play started moving towards the Duke goal.

“When the game settled down we knew we could play with them,” Ross said.

During this stretch the Leach brothers, Matt and Jeff, each had strong chances on Blue Devil goalkeeper Jan Trnka-Amhrein, but the first-year was able to make both saves. Thanks to those big plays, the score stayed scoreless heading into halftime.

The second half was much the same as the first, with both teams having periods of strong possession, only to see the opposing defense extinguish each scoring attempt. The Raiders and Blue Devils seemed to be heading for overtime until Duke converted in the 79th minute. The play seemed innocent enough, as the Blue Devils were awarded a free kick from 50 yards out. Senior Mike Grella took the kick and served a beautiful ball into the box, where Duke won the aerial battle as the ball fell to the foot of sophomore Nick Sih, who one-timed a shot past goaltender David Cappuccio. The Raiders had a couple of chances in the final minutes, but Duke was able to hold on for its fourth consecutive shutout. In the end it was a disappointing result, but it was truly a game that could have gone either way as both teams had 11 shots and the play was even throughout the match.

“Obviously we’re never satisfied with a loss, but this was one of our better performances of the season,” Ross said.

Next up, Colgate returns home where they host American University this Saturday at 7:30 p.m..