We Talkin’ About Playoffs?

Paul Kasabian

Yes, Coach Mora, we’re talking about playoffs. The Colgate fall sports season is heating up as the Patriot League (PL) regular seasons enter their final weeks of play. Last year, the Colgate fall sports teams had disappointing years, as only two of the five fall sports squads advanced into a postseason tournament. However, the Raiders have stormed back this season with a vengeance. Football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball are all assured of finishing with winning records, and field hockey just completed a resilient season by making its PL Tournament.

Will the month of November bring PL and NCAA tournament berths for Colgate? Below, I will look at each sport’s playoff chances in four different ways. First, I will spell out each team’s current standing in the Patriot League. Next, I will give you the best and worst-case scenarios for each squad. Lastly, I’ll give a prediction as to where Colgate will end up. Get ready for some postseason action Raiders fans!

Football

Current Standing: (3-1 in the Patriot League) Colgate is currently tied for second place in the conference with Holy Cross. The Raiders have two road games remaining against Georgetown and Holy Cross. The first-place Fordham Rams (5-0 PL) already clinched a share of the PL title and grabbed the conference’s lone Division I-FCS tournament berth with a 24-21 win over Holy Cross last Saturday.

Best-Case Scenario: Unfortunately, the Raiders’ postseason chances were wiped away when Fordham beat Holy Cross last Saturday. Because Colgate lost to Fordham during the Hall of Honor Weekend game in September, the Rams have the tiebreaker in hand against the Raiders. However, Colgate can still grab a share of the PL title. If Fordham loses at home to Bucknell and Colgate wins its last two games, the Raiders will grab a share of the PL title for the fourth time in this decade. Although Colgate could technically grab an at-large berth to the Division I-FCS tournament, two wins over conference foes will not put them in the Big Dance. No PL team is in the top-25, and only 16 teams make the playoffs. Two wins against the one-win Georgetown Hoyas and Holy Cross will not put Colgate into the tourney.

Worst-Case Scenario: Colgate squeaks by Georgetown and than loses to Holy Cross, falling to third place in the PL with a 4-2 record.

Prediction: Fordham will win its last game against hapless Bucknell and wins the conference for the first time since 2002, preventing Colgate from grabbing a share of the PL title. However, Colgate will finish strong by dominating Georgetown 49-7 and winning an offensive shoot-out, 38-35 with Holy Cross to finish the season at 8-3 with a 5-1 mark in the PL.

Volleyball

Current Standing: (10-2 PL) Colgate is tied for second place with Army in the conference. Both the Raiders and the Black Knights sit one match behind first-place American (11-1 PL) with two matches to go. Colgate will play road matches against Army and Holy Cross (1-11 PL) at the end of the week. The Raiders have clinched a spot in the PL Tournament for the first time in seven years.

Best Case Scenario: Colgate wins its last two matches and American loses its last two matches, giving the Raiders home-court advantage throughout the two-round PL Tournament.

Worst Case Scenario: Army sweeps Colgate and American wins both of its matches, which drops the Raiders to third place in the PL. There is no way that Colgate will lose a game to Holy Cross in Worcester, so Colgate will finish with an 11-3 PL record at the very least.

Prediction: Colgate loses a tough five-game match to Army, who defeated American at home earlier this season. However, the Raiders will prevail over Holy Cross in a three-game sweep. This will leave Colgate tied with Army for second place in the conference, as first-place American will have no trouble defeating both Lafayette and Lehigh to close out their regular season. Since Colgate and Army will have split their season series, Colgate will win this tiebreaker because it won more games against Army (6-4) in its two matches against the Black Knights. The Raiders will face Army for a third time at American University, who will host the PL Tournament. Colgate will win a tough four-game match against Army before bowing out in four games to a dominant American University squad in the PL finals. I hope I’m wrong.

Men’s Soccer

Current Standing: Colgate and Holy Cross are tied for first place in the PL with identical 4-0-2 records. The Raiders have clinched a berth in the PL Tournament for the third straight season and will play a road match against sixth-place Lehigh to close out the regular season.

Best-Case Scenario: Very simple formula here, folks. If Colgate defeats Lehigh, it will host the PL Tournament for the first time since 1997, which also happens to be the last time the Raiders won the conference and made the NCAA tournament. Let’s say Holy Cross wins its final regular season match against Lafayette. Why would Colgate win the tiebreaker over Holy Cross even though the two teams tied earlier in the season? Because the fewest number of goals against in conference play is the third tiebreaker the two teams would go to in case the two schools finish tied on top the PL. The first tiebreaker (head-to-head record) and the second tiebreaker (record against higher-ranked conference opponents) would not be applicable here for obvious reasons. Since Colgate has only allowed two goals in the PL this season and Holy Cross has allowed five goals in conference play, the Raiders have that tiebreaker locked up since there is NO way the Raiders are giving up more than two goals to Lehigh.

Worst-Case Scenario: Holy Cross wins and Colgate loses, dropping the Raiders into second place. Colgate won’t finish any lower than second place because it owns a goals against tiebreaker against third-place American (3-1-2 PL) and a head-to-head tiebreaker against third-place Lafayette (3-1-2 PL).

Prediction: Colgate will beat Lehigh, 1-0 after a goal by senior Eric Anton in the 87th minute, giving the Raiders the right to host the Tournament. The Raiders will defeat fourth-seed Lafayette in the semifinals, 2-1, which will send them to the PL finals against Holy Cross. In the finals, Colgate and Holy Cross will go to penalty kicks after each team scores a goal in regulation. Junior Matt “The Red Gazelle” Leach will score the winning goal in PK’s in front of more than 1,000 fans in 30-degree weather. The Raiders will then win each of its six NCAA tournament games in game-deciding shootouts after playing each team to a scoreless tie in regulation. After defeating No. 1 UConn in the finals, the Raiders will go on the talk-show circuit and regular-decision applications to ‘Gate will quadruple in what researchers will call the “Dan Belke Effect”, similar to the Doug Flutie Effect at Boston College in 1984.

Women’s Soccer

Current Standing: (3-4 PL) The Raiders finished in fifth place in the PL after losing to Navy, 2-1 last Saturday. They have now been eliminated from postseason play. They did finish with a 10-8-1 overall record, and senior Franny Iacuzzi broke the all-time goal scoring record in her final season.

Field Hockey

Current Standing: (2-3 PL) Fourth-seeded Colgate lost to first-seed American (5-0 PL), 4-1 in the first round of the Tournament last Friday. The Raiders went 8-9 overall, which doubles their win total from last season.

Although no more than two of these teams will make the NCAA tournament, it should be noted that four of the teams have made dramatic improvements from last season, and women’s soccer still finished with a winning overall record. It seems as though Colgate sports are definitely on the upswing from last season, so stay tuned as the hockey and basketball seasons get fully underway later this month.