Narrow Victories A Theme for Soccer

Evan Xenopoulos

After enduring a tough five-game losing streak, the Colgate men’s soccer team has regrouped, and currently rides a two-game winning streak.

The last three weeks have been tiring for the Raiders, playing seven games with very little rest. In the first five games of this stretch, the Raiders notched only one victory, but could take solace in the fact that each loss was by a one-goal margin.

After almost beating nationally-ranked Vermont and a very strong Buffalo squad, the Raiders came back with a win at Siena. However, two weeks ago Colgate squared off at home with Niagara and lost in hearbreaking fashion.

This season the Raiders have played well at home, reflected by a respectable 2-1 record. With the support of a large home crowd, which includes the large ensemble of the “D-Rock Fanatics”, Colgate was hoping to give its supporters another great performance.

The teams played a tight scoreless first half, but that was soon to change in the second half. Sophomore Eric Anton, who is slowly finding his rhythm, scored his third goal of the season, assisted by first-year Jimmy Stephens and junior Charlie Lambropoulos.

Unfortunately with 12 minutes remaining, Niagara’s persistent pressure paid off with an equalizing goal. Then, with only one minute left, Niagara scored a shocking free kick goal, handing the Raiders a tough loss at home.

“It was a very disappointing loss and I wish it did not end that way,” Head coach Eric Ronning said. “Niagara definitely played well enough to win this game, but I feel we could have played better.”

It was a tough loss to swallow, but the team needed to rebound in order to travel to Lafayette for a Patriot League game a few days later.

Lafayette got on the board early off a Colgate own goal, but the Raiders fought back with a goal from Lambropoulos, who has played excellently this season.

Colgate was unable to hold off Lafayette, as the Leopards tallied another goal in the final 10 minutes. On the whole, the Raiders played well defensively, but it was another late goal that brought about their demise.

The loss gave the Raiders a 4-4-2 record overall and a 1-1 Patriot League record.

“We gave up an early goal, but I am proud with how we fought back,” Ronning said. “It is tough to give up another late goal like that, but we need to increase our focus at the end of games if we want to win these tight ones.”

It was a long stretch, but the Raiders needed to forget about the previous mishaps and to focus on the upcoming crucial Patriot League game against Bucknell.

The preseason Patriot League rankings may have ranked Bucknell ahead of Colgate, but it is clear that the Raiders ignored these rankings, handing Bucknell a 1-0 loss.

Ronning labeled this a “tremendous game” by the team, and he was happy with everyone individually. He felt that the defense played very well, and the offense almost scored on several different occasions. Anton scored his fourth goal of the season, his second game-winning goal, to help push the Raiders to victory.

It was an important win for Colgate, which increased its Patriot League record to 2-1 and gave the team a much-needed boost of confidence.

With a big win under their belt, the Raiders were ready to face Philadelphia at home a few days later.

The game was very sloppy because of the very wet conditions, but the Raiders found a way to triumph. The team scored the game-winning goal only five minutes in after a great individual effort by senior Bryant Meckley. The game lacked flow due to bad field conditions, yet the Raiders were able to earn a second consecutive victory.

With a 6-4-2 record overall, the Raiders are looking very strong coming up against Navy tomorrow in what will be the final home Patriot League game of the season.

Navy is by far our biggest game of the season,” Ronning said. “If we win, it pushes us one step closer to accomplishing our goal of making the Patriot League Tournament. It is going to be a special game for seniors since it is their last home Patriot League game and I hope we can use the momentum from our past two games to get a victory.”

The Raiders have shown an ability to rebound after some tough losses this season, and it is clear that the team is ready for any challenge. Expect a solid effort from the Raiders against the visitng Midshipmen tomorrow evening.