Raiders Lose, Still Sit in Five-Way Tie for First

Evan Xenopoulos

The Colgate men’s soccer team traveled to American last Saturday with hopes of continuing its four-game winning streak, but the Raiders fell to an extremely tough opponent, 3-1.

With the end of the season approaching and the race for the Patriot League regular season championship heating up, the Raiders have truly stepped up their performances in recent weeks.

With a 3-1 league record, the Raiders entered the game tied with Lehigh for first place in the Patriot League. A win against American would have clinched a playoff spot for the Raiders, but an extremely underrated American squad gave Colgate a tough time.

The game started relatively even, but the Raiders made two mistakes within a 20-minute span that American capitalized on. As a result, the Raiders were down 2-0 roughly 30 minutes into the game and had their work cut out for them.

The Raiders looked to begin the comeback after the team cut the lead to 2-1 in the 34th minute after senior Bryant Meckley scored off of an assist from junior forward Devin Deane.

The Raiders tried to keep their momentum going, but less than one minute after assisting on the first goal, Deane was given a red card for a hard tackle. Playing a man down, the team’s chances of winning greatly diminished. American then tacked on an insurance goal in the 60th minute to seal the two-goal victory.

“We made two terrible mistakes and when you play a good team, they are going to take advantage of them,” head coach Eric Ronning said. “I was happy with how we came back, but the red card really ruined any momentum we had. We did the best under the conditions, but I am happy that no one quit and we showed a lot of heart playing a man down.”

It was a tough loss, but when you are playing a man down for most of the game, it is tough to follow the predetermined game plan. Nonetheless, the Raiders showed that they refuse to give up and that they will fight as hard as they can in order to win games.

The game against American also marked the first time all season that the Raiders had trailed by more than one goal. This statistic is a credit to how well the Colgate defense has played and to how important the team’s defense will be if it is to succeed in the upcoming weeks.

The loss dropped the Raiders’ record to 7-5-3, while their Patriot League mark fell to 3-2. Remarkably, the men find themselves in a five-team tie atop the Patriot League along with American, Lehigh, Bucknell and Lafayette.

“It is playoff time right now and we are fighting for our playoff lives,” Ronning said. “We have a tough game this week at Lehigh, but if we defend well and make plays when we have to, I feel we can win. I also feel we control our own destiny – we are going to need some good results if we want to make the tournament.”

Tomorrow’s game at Lehigh will be a tough one, as Lehigh is ranked in the nation’s top 25. The Raiders have shown that they can compete with high caliber teams such as Vermont and Buffalo, and if the team wants to make the Patriot League Tournament, tomorrow’s game is crucial.

The team will be without the services of Deane, who will serve a one-game suspension for receiving a red card, but the team knows that it can pick up the slack, just as it did when senior co-captain Sean O’Sullivan was injured in the beginning of the season.

With only two league games remaining, it is time to see if the Raiders can fulfill their goal of making the Patriot League Tournament for the first time in six seasons. The team has all the components needed to win, and the Raiders now have an opportunity to prove all of their critics wrong.