Men’s Soccer Gets Off To Fast Start

Evan Xenopoulos

After a winning season, the Colgate Men’s Soccer team returns with a solid core of stellar veterans that led the Raiders to a 9-7-3 record and a Patriot League playoff birth.

Coach Eric Ronning, returning for his second season as head coach, is extremely happy with this season’s squad. Senior Eli Meyers will be the team’s lone captain this season. Coach Ronning wasn’t brief in his praise for Myers, declaring, “He is a warrior and he is definitely the heart and soul of this team. He plays hard for ninety minutes and is always a huge inspiration to everyone on the field. People look to him during games and I could not imagine a better captain.”

On top of Eli, the team returns dynamic scoring threats in senior Devin Deane and junior Eric Anton. Anton led the Raiders with seven goals last year and Deane came in second with six. Together, they combined to score 13 of the team’s 20 goals last season.

Coach Ronning also mentioned senior Charlie Lambropoulos, who led the team last year with six assists, junior Dan Belke, senior Kevin Toomey and sophomore Glenn Volk as important defensive and midfield players. The four are an integral part of the team’s core and will not only keep goals out of the net, but help the offense create goals.

The team is also returning three goalies in senior Doug Litvack, sophomore David Cappuccio and sophomore Matt Barton. Despite manning the net for 18 out of the team’s 19 games last year, Litvack has faced fierce competition from Cappuccio for the number one spot. Coach Ronning made it clear that he has confidence putting any three of the team’s keepers between the posts.

Coach Ronning is very pleased with this year’s recruits. The student-athletes all have a great deal of talent and character that will be important to the future of the Colgate soccer program. First-years Alex Weeks, Chris Salmon, Alex Gardner, Chris Koontz and Chris Ross have all caught the eye of Coach Ronning thus far. He is impressed with how they have played and sees them getting better every day.

Many of these versatile young players will see a good amount of action this season, under the watchful eye of Ronning and the team’s veterans. The first-years may ultimately hold the key to the future of this program, but Coach Ronning emphasized how the older players can help these young players adjust to D-1 soccer.

With an extremely deep line up to work with, Coach Ronning took the Raiders into their first game against St. Bonaventure at Van Doren Field this past week. After a scoreless first half, the Raiders finally opened up the scoring after a remarkable run by one of the best athletes on the team, Eric Anton. Anton engaged in a one-on-one battle with a Bonnie defender before working the ball past St. Bonaventure’s goalkeeper Kevin Lish. The packed crowd erupted as the team took the lead and complete control of the game. Anton continued his incredible play and added an assist when he sent a beautiful cross to Devin Dean who sealed the game with a great volley.

Anton had the following to say after the big win, “This game was definitely a step in the right direction and I’m happy I could help the team win the game. The atmosphere was just amazing and the crowd really helped us.”

Not to be overshadowed by Anton’s antics, the Raider defense stifled the Bonnies to capture the impressive shutout. Sophomore goalie Cappuccio was given the start and he validated his presence in the contest with superb play that catapulted the Raiders to a 2-0 victory.

Three days later on August 29, the Raiders played their second home game of the season against the Binghamton Bearcats. Kept silent for 64 minutes of play, the Raider attack looked to red-hot forward Devin Deane to deliver the tie-breaking strike. Off of sophomore William Batson’s throw in near the 20-yard mark, junior Dan Belke sent the scoring ball forward to Deane, who promptly struck the net behind Binghamton’s goalie Ryan Bertoni. The shot proved to be the deciding score, as Colgate completed their second shutout of the season at 1-0. Senior keeper Doug Litvack recorded six saves while turning in one of the team’s best performances.

The two wins put the Raiders on the right track this season, but Coach Ronning is making sure that his players are not getting ahead of themselves, “I am very happy with where this program’s heading, but we have a long way to go. We need to continue to play smart and solid defense. We are becoming very opportunistic with our chances on offense and I hope that this continues. The season is only going to get harder, as we have many tough opponents ahead of us. We are no where near our top form, but we are going to continue to get better and I hope we can get another Patriot League Tournament birth.”

The Raiders cannot rest on their victorious laurels as they square off against many formidable opponents in the next few weeks. If the team can continue to follow Coach Ronning’s defensive philosophy and play cohesively, there is no reason why this team cannot eclipse the success of last year’s campaign.