The Colgate men’s soccer team opened its 2008 campaign with a bang last Saturday, as the Raiders beat La Salle, 2-0 in front of a buzzing home crowd to earn their first victory of the season. Powered behind goals from juniors Alex Weekes and Chris Ross, a stifling defense and solid keeper play, the Raiders dominated the La Salle Explorers throughout nearly the entire ninety minutes of action.
Right from the opening whistle, Colgate took the game to La Salle. Weekes gave Colgate its first serious chance, shooting wide right of the net after breaking free of the La Salle defenders just three minutes into the match. Though La Salle responded with a serious offensive attack of its own shortly after, ‘Gate goalkeeper David Cappuccio kept the contest level with clutch saves in both the fifth and seventh minutes of the game. While the Raiders managed eight chances on net after the initial burst of action, it took them until the 39th minute to put up their first goal of the season. Alex Weekes was the man on the spot for the Raiders, as he coolly placed a free kick past La Salle goalkeeper Andrew Bernhard into the upper 90’s of the net to put the Raiders up 1-0.
Colgate kept the La Salle net under siege with shots from five separate Raiders in the early goings of the second half, and though none were able to beat the keeper, they signaled what was to come for the Explorers in the remainder of the match. After minutes of intense second half pressure, the Raiders were able to break through the Explorers for a second time, as Chris Ross took in a cross from sophomore teammate Steve Miller and one-timed it past Bernhard to open his scoring account for the season to close out the scoring for this match. For his efforts in amassing seven saves against La Salle in a shutout, Cappuccio was named Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week for games that were played up until Sunday, August 31.
The Raiders continued their season opening campaign last Monday when they traveled upstate to battle with the Syracuse Orange. The men began the game roughly, and fell behind the Orange 1-0 after junior Tom Perevegyencev scored in the 34th minute to put Colgate back on its collective heels. Syracuse went on to outshoot the Raiders 9-5 in the first half, and went into the halftime break with its one goal lead intact. However, Colgate fought back in the second period of action, as strong play from Cappuccio and an increased number of chances on the Syracuse goal kept the game from slipping away from the Raiders. In stark contrast to the first half, which had been largely dominated by the Orange’s scoring chances, Colgate managed to outshoot Syracuse, 9-6 in the second half and pressure the Syracuse net in search for the elusive game-leveling goal. Finally, in the 71st minute of play, Ross put Colgate on the scoreboard with a wonder strike from 18 yards out of the goal that beat Syracuse goalkeeper Robert Cavicchia in the upper-right hand corner of the net. The skillful goal was Ross’s second of the season. Though both squads pressed hard for the winner in the final 19 minutes of normal time, regulation ended tied at one, which set the stage for two ten minute overtime periods. Though Colgate and Syracuse each logged multiple chances on net in overtime action, neither team was able to break through with a game winner, and as such the match ended in a hard fought 1-1 draw.
The draw with Syracuse put Colgate’s record for the young season at 1-0-1, and Colgate now currently sits in the eighth spot of the most recent NSCAA Mid-Atlantic poll. Colgate will now host the Raider Adidas Fall Classic from Friday to Sunday. Rider, Binghamton and Central Arkansas will all battle on Van Doren Field in the coming days. The Raiders will play the tough Binghamton Bearcats on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. before hosting the Rider Broncos in a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m.