Men’s Soccer Grabs First in PL

Evan Xenopoulos

The Colgate men’s soccer team is finally starting to show the form that propelled it to the Patriot League semifinals last season after winning two key Patriot League games in the last two weeks. Head Coach Erik Ronning stressed the importance of taking advantage of scoring opportunities going into Colgate’s first Patriot League match against Army at Van Doren Field. The Raiders offense has many capable players such as senior captain Eric Anton and junior Matt Leach, but the team has had some trouble finding the back of the net. The offense hoped to change that on October 6 when it hosted the Black Knights.

On a very wet night in Hamilton, both teams played cautiously in the first half. Colgate outshot Army, but was unable to score on a couple of great chances. In the second half, the Raiders continued to play stifling defense. Finally, in the 63rd minute, standout senior defender Dan Belke settled a cross from sophomore Alex Weekes and slotted it home for the 1-0 lead. The goal was the first of his career. The Raiders defense, along with junior goalie David Cappuccio, played excellent soccer to protect the lead and give the Raiders a crucial 1-0 victory.

Coach Ronning felt great after the victory.

“Our first half was not as strong as it could have been, as I felt we could have defended better,” Ronning said. “However, we addressed certain issues at the half and we were able to put more pressure on Army in the second half. We had golden opportunities in both halves, but I am happy that Belke was able to get the game-winner and his first career goal. Overall we did a great job and we got three key points at home.”

Eight days later, Colgate braced itself for a tough match-up at Lafayette. The Leopards knocked the Raiders out of the Patriot League Tournament last season, which gave the Raiders extra motivation to win the match. Unfortunately, Lafayette scored 3:10 into the match when Scott Hawkins sent a shot past Cappuccio. However, the superstar goalie made a crucial save minutes later to keep the match alive. The first half would end with Colgate down, 1-0.

At halftime, the Raiders reworked some problems and began to pressure Lafayette for the majority of the second half. After missing many good opportunities, the Raiders finally broke through with a huge goal by Leach, who took a great pass from Belke in the 73rd minute and put it in the back of the net. The Raiders would continue pressing, and just seven minutes later, Anton would come up big with his first game-winning goal of the season. The Raiders would win the game 2-1 to raise their Patriot League record to 2-0-1.

Captain Eric Anton felt great after the Lafayette match.

“The Lafayette victory was very important for our team,” Anton said. “We really came together after letting up that first goal and showed our true ability the rest of the game. That was by far our best game all year and we are getting better with every game.”

For their great performances, captains Anton and Belke were named the Patriot League BRINE Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. Belke not only played great defensively, but he had the key assist that got the Raiders back into the game against Lafayette.

Two days after another dramatic Patriot League victory, the Raiders traveled to Binghamton for a tough non-conference match. A fatigued Colgate squad came out flat and let Binghamton take the lead when Matt Narode scored 7:22 into the match. The Raiders were unable to stave off Binghamton’s attack, as Narode would get his second goal of the match in the 27th minute. Colgate would play better in the second half, but the Raiders fell by the final score of 2-0. The loss drops the Raiders’ overall record to 6-4-2. Even so, the Raiders earned two huge Patriot League victories and are playing their best soccer at the most crucial point in the season. Colgate now comes home for a big Patriot League game against Bucknell at home. If Colgate can continue its better offensive play as of late, both Patriot League and non-Patriot League opponents will have trouble dealing with the Raiders.