Men’s Soccer To A Draw

Evan Xenopoulos

The Colgate Men’s Soccer team continued its impressive start to the 2006 season by extending its unbeaten streak to three with a win over the Binghamton Bearcats and a scoreless tie with the Albany Great Danes.

The Raiders won their first game of the season against St. Bonaventure, but Coach Ronning stressed all week to his team the importance of taking one game at a time and realizing that the season only gets harder.

The team played excellent defense and offense in its first game and going into their second game against Binghamton, they knew that they would face a much stiffer test at Van Doren Field.

Coach Ronning made a change in net for this game as he decided to play the more experienced senior Doug Litvack in net. Ronning made it clear that he has confidence in both Litvack and sophomore David Cappuccio, which gives the team two excellent starting goalies.

The Raiders got off to a slow start in this game and were on the defensive for a good amount of the first half. However, excellent defense and some great saves from Litvack allowed the Raiders to settle into the game and generate some offense.

Both teams had goals disallowed in the first half, but in the second half the Raiders finally wore down the Bearcats and broke through with an outstanding goal by junior Devin Deane.

The goal came off of a throw-in that junior Daniel Belke skip headed to his teammate Deane who made an impressive shot. The Raiders had a flurry of opportunities to close the game, but in the last minute Litvack made an improbable save to give the Raiders the 1-0 shutout victory.

The win was the Raiders second straight shutout victory at home and Coach Ronning was very pleased, “It was a good game for both teams. I don’t think we played well at the beginning, but a couple of changes allowed us to settle down. We clearly wore them down throughout the game and we were fortunate to be the ones who made the big play to score. Belke was definitely our man of the match, but it was definitely a team victory and a big win for the program.”

The Raiders work ethic and strong defensive play clearly were the difference in their first two victories, but they had to refocus quickly as they traveled to Albany to face a tough Great Danes men’s soccer squad.

The game would finish in a 0-0 tie giving the Raiders a three game unbeaten streak and their third shutout in a row. Nonetheless, many players on the team definitely felt this game should have been theirs and this is evident if one looks at the statistics.

The Raiders out shot the Great Danes 17-6 and had fourteen corners compared to Albany’s two. Junior Eric Anton had the following to say, “It was just one of those games where the ball just did not want to go in. We played great on both sides of the ball, but we just got unlucky.”

Junior Simon Jarcho added his feelings, “I have never been in a game where we were in such control and we could not put it away. I wish we could have got the win, but we played an excellent game.”

Coach Ronning wished the team could have gotten the win, but offered many positive comments, “We had difficulty finishing, but we hit crossbars, missed open nets and missed breakaways. There was definitely no fear of us giving up a goal, but we could not finish the deal. I am very happy about the effort we put, but this is how soccer is sometimes.”

The result may not have been the one the Raiders wanted, but they have gotten off to an impressive 2-0-1 record with three shutouts. The Raiders outstanding defensive play led to junior Dan Belke and senior Doug Litvack being honored as the Patriot League Brine Defensive Player and Goalkeeper of the week, respectively.

Even with this great start, Coach Ronning continues to keep his players focused, “It has been a great start, but we have two top 25 teams in the nation coming up this weekend against Dartmouth and Yale. They both made the NCAAs last year and this will give us a chance to raise some eyebrows. I know we will definitely be emotionally ready, but we need to see if we can finish our opportunities.”

Spirits are high in the Colgate men’s soccer camp, but this weekend will provide a stiff test for the team. The Raiders are excited about the start to their season and they will look to get the program’s name into the national headlines with this weekend’s big games.