The Colgate men’s soccer team had another impressive week, finishing 1-0-1 and moving one step closer to qualifying for the Patriot League Tournament.
The stretch during which the Raiders lost four out of five games is a distant memory now. The team is in the midst of a four-game unbeaten streak.
After beating Philadelphia at home last Wednesday, the Raiders squared off at Van Doren Field on Saturday night against Navy in what may be Colgate’s final Patriot League home game of the season.
Raider head coach Eric Ronning, for one, knew the Navy game meant a lot to his team.
“I knew this game was important, especially because we only have three of our seven league games at home,” Ronning said. “Our last three Patriot League games are on the road and a win at home would move us one step closer to our goal of getting a playoff spot.”
It seems that the team got the message. It played a hard game and was able to come away with a close 1-0 victory. The game was played in extremely wet conditions, but the Raiders were able to brave the conditions and beat the Middies.
The first half was even, but Colgate made its move when junior Devin Deane scored by directing a beautiful half-volley into the side of the net. The score came off a good cross into the box by first-year Jimmy Stephens.
During the second half, the Raiders held on as Navy was relentless in its attack. Junior goalie Doug Litvack made multiple big saves in order to help seal the victory, none more important than two diving stops in the 63rd minute that helped preserve the victory.
After those two saves, Navy’s Addy Strasdas swiped at Litvack in frustration, causing senior Raider defender Glenn Volk to come to the aid of his teammate. Because of the ensuing scuffle, Volk and Strasdas received red cards and the two teams played 10-on-10 for the final 27:23.
“I am very impressed with the character we showed out there,” Ronning said. “We could have broken at the end, but we did not and earned a key victory. Navy put a lot of pressure, but we got some good fortune at the end in order to come away with a victory.”
The Raiders have had many heartbreaking losses this season due to giving up late goals, but the team has reversed that trend. With the victory against Navy, Colgate increased its winning streak to three games, with all three victories coming by a 1-0 margin.
The team’s defense has become more focused, and it is clear that the men want to learn from their past mistakes. The win gave the Raiders a 3-1 record in the Patriot League and has moved the team close to qualifying for the Patriot League Tournament.
With another win under their belt, the Raiders traveled to Syracuse on Wednesday to face a solid Orangemen team. In a difficult game, the Raiders managed to come away with a 1-1 tie.
There was not much action in the first half, but Syracuse got on the board with a strong goal at the start of the second. However, the Raiders began to control the possession, searching for the equalizer for the remainder of the second half.
Then, with only 32 seconds left, senior Bryant Meckley scored the game-tying goal that provided the final result. With the tie, the Raiders’ record now stands at 7-4-3.
In the last four games, the team has given up only one goal. This is important because the Raiders have now gone consecutive games in which the team has scored exactly one goal. Colgate’s defensive success has not gone unnoticed. Litvack earned the Patriot League BRINE Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
In addition, the Raiders returned to the top 10 NSCAA/Adidas New York Rankings, moving into the number eight slot.
It was another fantastic week for the Raiders, and they now hope that they can use all this momentum effectively with the final four games of the season coming up.
Three of the four will be Patriot League away games, and the Raiders will need to play well if they want to secure a playoff bid.
Ronning does not want to look too far ahead, as he stresses to his team to take the schedule one game at a time. The Raiders have improved vastly since the first game of the season, and now it is embarking upon the toughest stretch of their schedule.