If asked to sum up the Raider field hockey team’s season to this point, one does not need to look further than last weekend. Desperate for a win, the Raiders snapped their seven-game losing streak against Lafayette, only to fall in their next game at the hands of Cornell on Wednesday night. Colgate has suffered through its share of ups and downs this year and time is of the essence.
With every remaining game of pivotal importance, the Raiders earned a tough victory for the first time in nearly a month. In her final home game, senior co-captain Dana Shaner walked off Tyler’s Field on Saturday afternoon as a winner. Shaner fueled a Raider comeback and scored the game-winning goal in a thrilling, 3-2 double-overtime victory over Lafayette.
Early on, the Lafayette Leopards were able to penetrate deep within Raider territory on multiple occasions. They came up empty, however, until Leopard Amanda Eggleston maneuvered her way past the Raider defenders and found the back of the cage.
As the only senior defender, Jenn Weisholz finds that it takes time for the defense to find its nich?e every game.
“Not onlydoes our defensive unitconsist of many first-years this year, but ourlineup has also been changing all season,” Weisholz said.”Therefore, with each game we need to use each other and our midfielders to get things organized.Unfortunately, it does seem to take a few minutes before we settle down and tighten up.”
After seeming tentative in the early minutes, the Raider offense went to work. Sophomore forward Lauren Remkus regained the momentum for Colgate by scoring her fourth goal of the year to tie the game. For the rest of the half, both teams tightened up their respective defenses and took the tie to halftime.
Following the intermission, the Raider offense could not establish itself, therefore placing the emphasis upon the defense to maintain the tie. Unfortunately, eight minutes into the second half, Lafayette broke through with a goal to take the lead. Down but not out, the Raiders sought to even the game and were rewarded for their persistent efforts. The penalty corner duo of first-years Lauren Carey and Maddie Watrobski fed Shaner, who tied the score at two. Thereafter, with the game on the line, both defenses went into lockdown mode and took the game to overtime.
In the first overtime , the Raider offense took a back seat and waited for the right moment to seize control. That opportunity did not come until the second overtime period, when, four minutes into double OT, a fatigued and courageous Shaner led the team to victory.
“It was great that Dana saved the day for us; she has been playing really hard in all of the last couple of games, doing whatever she can for the team,” head coach Cathy Foto said. “I was thrilled that she was able to do it.”
Just when it seemed that the Raiders had turned the page on their season, they were overcome by another quality opponent. Looking to carry over their inspiring play from Sunday, the Raiders fell behind early against Cornell on Wednesday night and were unable to pull off another comeback. Cornell barely held on for a 4-3 victory, handing the Raiders a tough loss.
As on previous occasions, the Raiders played well enough to win; however, they suffered through one brief period in which a defensive lapse cost the team the game. For the first 20 minutes of the contest, neither team could generate substantial movement on offense. Suddenly, the Cornell Big Red caught fire and everything they shot hit the back of the cage. In seven minutes, Cornell scored three goals to take a commanding lead.
“I think it was just a matter of settling down, and maintaining composure in the back, despite Cornell’s offensive attacks,” Weisholz said in reference to the squad’s defensive breakdown.
Despite the deficit, the offense chipped away and did its best to keep the game close. Shaner led the team back with her 12th goal of the season and, right before the half, Carey netted a goal to close the gap even further.
“We were very unproductive in the first half because we had trouble recognizing what they were doing,” Foto said. “The offense is capable of scoring in bunches every single time we play – we just need to all play better team defense so that we do not get in a hole early.”
Coming out of halftime, both defenses stepped up and challenged the respective offenses to make a move. Colgate seized the moment in the 49th minute, when Remkus scored to tie the game. Erasing the three-goal lead, while extraordinary on the Raiders’ behalf, did not impress the Big Red. Cornell netted a fourth goal only three minutes later, and its defense shut the door to seal the win.
Yet again, even with a resilient offense, the defense could not hold its ground to keep the Raiders alive. Time and time again, Foto emphasized once more the role of the team’s defense.
“At this point in the season it is all about our defense,” she said.
Even more disheartening is the fact that the Raiders remain winless away from Tyler’s Field. The squad will get another chance for a road win when the Raiders travel to Lehigh tomorrow for a crucial Patriot League match-up.