Evan Xenopoulos

The Colgate men’s soccer team has continued its impressive undefeated start to the season with a win against the Yale Bulldogs and a tie against the Big Green of Dartmouth.

Head Coach Ronning’s philosophy of taking one game at a time seems to be paying off as the Raiders have taken none of their opponents lightly and continue to play well in each game.

After starting the season 2-0-1 with three consecutive shut outs, the Raiders came into arguably one of the toughest weekends of the year squaring off against two top tier Ivy League schools in Dartmouth and Yale at the E*Trade Financial 2006 Yale Soccer Classic Presented by Barnes & Noble.

Both Dartmouth and Yale made the NCAA tournament last year and this year both teams were closing in on a spot in the top 25 rankings in the nation. Coach Ronning and the team knew they had a golden opportunity to not only pull off some huge upsets, but to get national recognition for their play.

The Raiders squared off against the Big Green of Dartmouth first and it was a tight game from start to finish. Coach Ronning elected to start sophomore David Cappuccio and he delivered in this big game.

While Cappuccio faced zero shots on net, Coach Ronning was pleased with his play. ” David managed the game very well and gave the team confidence in the back. He has been great all year and he continues to get better with every game,” he said.

The Raiders had an opportunity to score on many occasions, but the game would end in a 0-0 tie after 110 minutes of play. Even so, the Raiders defense allowed thirteen shots, but none on net. The team’s defense has been perfect this season and it is gaining confidence with each game.

“This was a defensively oriented game and there were not many quality chances,” Coach Ronning said about the team’s fourth straight shut out of the year. “Both teams had chances, but we were both not sharp on the attacking end. However, the fact that we did not play well and still got a result shows a lot about this team. We fought hard and most of all we battled well together.”

The Raiders extended their unbeaten streak to four games with this tie and increased their record to 2-0-2.

The men’s next game was against Yale and after recording two consecutive scoreless ties, the Raiders came into this game looking for a victory.

With an extremely organized defense, the Raiders played the aggressive Yale team very well. Yale had many chances, but the team that would find the back of the net would be the Colgate Raiders.

The goal came late in the first half after sophomore Jimmy Stephens sent an excellent ball to first-year Chris Salmon who hit a great shot to score. The goal would be all the men would need, as the defense came up big again against a Yale team that pressed for much of the second half.

Senior Doug Litvack got the start in net for this game and it is clear that there is no drop in the quality of goaltending whether it is Litvack or Cappuccio in net.

Coach Ronning summed up the Yale game, ” We again played excellent defensively and we were able to put away our chance. We got great sparks off the bench from Jimmy Stephens and Chris Salmon who worked together to get the goal. Our defense bended in the second half, but we did not break. This was another great team win and I hope we can continue to do what we have been doing.”

The game marked the Raiders fifth straight shutout, which gives the Raiders a record of 3-0-2. The Raiders have not conceded a goal since last year’s Patriot League semifinal and the team hopes to continue its impressive streak.

Junior Dan Belke gave his thoughts about the team’s incredible start, “The whole team has really bought into Coach Ronning’s philosophy on defense, and the success we’ve had is just a testament to that fact.”

The Raiders great play did not go unnoticed as Belke, senior captain Eli Meyers and first-year Chris Salmon all were on the all-tournament team at the Yale Tournament.

The men now must put these games behind them and look forward to their big opening Patriot League game this weekend at Army.

“We are now getting into the Patriot League schedule and it is a new season. Patriot League games have a different dynamic and we need to continue to work as hard as we have. Army is going to be a tough game and I expect a one goal game. I am pleased with the team and it is clear that the dynamic of new guys and veterans is working well,” Ronning said.

The Raiders depth has helped the team in every game both offensively and defensively. The team is undefeated going into this weekend and the Raiders’ spirits are high. The men are playing well under Coach Ronning’s defensive philosophy and they are feeling confident that they can get a positive result in their first Patriot League game of the season.