After yet another successful week, the Colgate men’s soccer team earned the program’s first national ranking ever at 24th in the nation.
The Raiders won two games this past week as they defeated Siena and league rival Lafayette at home. The two wins extended the Raiders unbeaten streak to eight games, as they now own an impressive 6-0-2 record.
The Lafayette Leopards came into Hamilton last weekend looking to hand the Raiders their first loss. However, Colgate would not disappoint their home fans, and thee team played a great game to earn the victory.
The Leopards came out firing as they earned five corner kicks in the first ten minutes of the game. The Raiders defense refused to break and did not allow Lafayette to score. After some great saves by senior Doug Litvack, the men finally settled down and began to hammer away at the Lafayette defense.
Coach Erik Ronning utilized his bench to perfection, as sophomore Chris Leach and first-year Chris Salmon added big sparks off the bench. The Raiders had many opportunities to score, but they would finally break through on the most unlikely of chances.
With senior Devin Deane driving to net, he sent in a cross to fellow striker junior Eric Anton. The ball would be deflected by a Lafayette defender into his own net, giving the Raiders a 1-0 lead. The Raiders would continue to press and Anton would have a big hand in Colgate’s second goal.
After a great run, Anton sent a brilliant ball to Leach. Leach dribbled by the goalie and shot the ball through the legs of a Lafayette defender. Leach’s goal would end up being the game winner, as the Leopards breached the men’s defense for the first time this season off a spectacular header. However, the team did not flinch as it held on for the win.
“It was a very emotional win and a big team victory,” Coach Ronning said. “Every player I brought into the game brought a spark and it is great to see everyone contributing. We were fortunate to get the own goal, but we finished them off with a great second goal. I never put too much emphasis on the shutout streak, but that is over and done with. Now we can continue to work hard and continue our success.”
The win improved the Raiders league record to 2-0, and put them into a first place tie with Bucknell and Lehigh in the Patriot league.
With the Lafayette game behind them, the Raiders refocused for a home game against Siena on a cold Tuesday night. The Raiders did not play their best soccer, but nonetheless they found a way to win.
Chris Salmon again gave the team a spark as a substitute in the first quarter. He made a great cross to senior Charlie Lambropoulos, who sent a volley high into the net. It was all the men needed for another shutout victory.
“We did not play our best against Siena, but it is a good sign if we can play badly and still get a result,” Coach Ronning said. “We may be nationally ranked, but the season is only half way done and it only gets harder. We have some very tough opponents coming up, but if we keep playing at a high level we should be able to get results.”
Salmon continues to have great success off the bench for the Raiders this season, as his latest assist against Siena put him as the team’s leader in points with five.
The Raiders recorded their seventh shutout of the year and it was also the fifth shutout of the year for sophomore goalie David Cappuccio. The win gave Cappuccio three wins on the year and the shutout extended his personal shutout streak to an impressive 490 minutes.
In addition, Cappuccio was named to the 11-player Soccer America Men’s team of the week. The sophomore has been having a great year, and both he and Litvack have been equally effective in net for the Raiders. The team was also mentioned recently in an article on ESPN.com, lauding its terrific defensive play.
The team is happy with its play thus far, but it is still hungry for more. The men have a tough road game this weekend against Bucknell, who also has its own eight game unbeaten streak. As long as the Raiders continue to work hard as a team, there is no doubt that they can continue their unbelievable start to the 2006 season.