In its 2006 season-opener, the Raider men’s lacrosse team battled both the University of Hartford and the bitter cold on Saturday afternoon; coming Colgate away victorious against both opponents in its 11-7 win. Sophomore Matt Lalli picked up right where he left off last season by scoring four goals, including a hat trick in the first half, and a gift-wrapping assist for junior Rob Ryan.
At the end of the first period, the score was tied at two, but that was all the offense that Hartford could muster against the Raider defense until the very end of the half. Colgate opened up a scoring barrage less than a minute into the second period that included five goals in 12 minutes. In the period Lalli and first-year Brandon Corp both scored twice, with the final goal going to Ryan.
The Hawks chipped away at the 7-3 lead, scoring two unanswered goals to cut the lead to two, before the Raiders restarted their offensive engines. Goals by Lalli, Ryan, junior Jeff Hiller and senior Peter Whitcomb sealed the game for Colgate and pushed the final tally to 11 goals.
Beyond the strong offensive output, the story of the game was the weather. The temperature was a brisk 10 degrees at the start of the game and, combined with 20-plus mile-per-hour winds, forced the Raiders to contend with much more than just their opponent. Nevertheless, the Raider men donned only shorts and pads while the Hawks played in sweatpants and sweatshirts.
“I was impressed with our hard play, our mental and physical toughness, and how we overcame the adversity of the conditions,” head coach Jim Nagle said. “That was the coldest day in my five years here and the wind was unbelievable, but our guys played hard through it.”
The Raiders are attempting to improve on last season, in which they only won one game in the Patriot league and finished 7-7 overall. Colgate was picked to finish fifth out of the six teams in the league in the preseason coaches’ poll, which upset Nagle.
“We had a disappointing league record last year, but I don’t think that the ranking was very accurate,” Nagle said. “I feel like we can compete with any of the teams in the Patriot league.”
The Raiders have a number of returning starters, including Lalli, the team points leader last year, junior Brendan Hurley, the squad’s leading goal scorer, and senior goaltender Andrew Jarolimek. The team’s experience will be coupled with many first-year recruits, led by Corp, and should lead to an improved record and a birth in the Patriot League Tournament. In addition, if the Raiders can reach the .500 mark again this season, they would break the program’s current record of four consecutive non-losing seasons.
“I am real happy with the crew of guys,” Nagle said. “It is the best group of attitudes [I’ve had].”
Colgate plays against Sacred Heart tomorrow afternoon in Fairfield. The Pioneers will be playing their first game of the year after finishing 6-8 last year. Look for the Raiders to carry over their momentum and high spirits from an encouraging start to the season.