Road Struggles to Worsen or Come to an End

After a steady and consistent improvement in their performance during the first three weeks of the season, it seems as though the women’s field hockey team is returning back to earth. It was an uncharacteristic showing for Colgate, as they lost 6-2 Friday evening to West Chester University. With the defeat, the Raiders record dropped to 5-3, with one final non-conference match left.

It was a historic night for West Chester senior forward Megan Gliemi, who had her way with the Raider defense. Gliemi had more goals, four, than Raiders had penalty corners, three, and almost equaled Raider shots, which totaled five.

“We were simply unable to sustain a persistent attack which allowed Gliemi to score her goals, which would have been scored by anyone,” Coach Foto said.

Despite her offensive barrage, the Raiders actually had the lead for the entire first half. First-year forward Lauren Carey scored her first career coal at the 6:46 mark in the first half. Testing the Raider defense, Gliemi tied the game up four minutes later. The Raiders battled throughout the first half and went into halftime with a 2-1 lead that resulted from first-year Laura Flisnik’s fifth goal of the year.

“We were able to take our free hits quickly, see the lanes and spaces, work two on one combinations successfully and really incorporate all the little things that we had been preparing for the weekends games,” Flisnik noted, regarding the first half of play.

The bottom line was how this game became a tale of two halves. Looking at its 3-4 record entering the game, West Chester did not appear to be a formidable team. However, the team proved doubters wrong by exposing each and every flaw in the Raider defense. The Golden Rams were able to generate thirteen shots, including three corners, that resulted in five goals, including three by Gliemi. To Flisnik, the offense sputtered in the second half.

“We failed to track down loose balls and give second efforts in order to get the ball back. Also, we did not give second efforts in order to get the ball back and the lack of possession that resulted really caused a breakdown in our team,” Flisnik said.

Of the Raiders’ five shots, Flisnik had three as West Chester did a terrific job shutting down senior co-captain Dana Shaner. It is clear what she is capable of and the Golden Rams never allowed Colgate to get into any rhythm, offensively or defensively. In addition, it was a tough game for the team’s other co-captain, junior goalkeeper Jacque DeMarco. The reigning Patriot League Goalie of the Year was clearly not herself, but hopefully she can regain her form during this difficult stretch.

“The disappointing thing was that she made saves in bunches, but then when she was faced with third and fourth shot opportunities, she could not stop WCU,” Coach Foto said about DeMarco.

What used to be a comfortable cushion in the Patriot League standings for the Raiders has now become an intense battle among opponents jockeying for position before League play begins. Colgate concludes its non-conference schedule on Sunday, when the squad travels to Providence.

Perhaps in order to take the next step forward, one must first take a few large steps back. If this is the case, then hopefully the Raiders can take that next step towards becoming a solid, elite team. Currently, the Raiders’ play has regressed, losing to Providence on Sunday afternoon, 3-1. The loss, again, denied Colgate its first road win and exacerbated its losing streak, which has now reached three.

For the second consecutive game, the Raider offense completely disappeared. To the uninformed viewer it did not appear that Providence (3-8) was an offensive powerhouse, yet, they managed 26 total shots and 14 penalty corners against the Colgate defense.

Providence got on the board first, seven minutes into the contest, as the combination of Melissa McGow and Jessica Weinstein beat DeMarco. Colgate tried to counter, but the Friar defense stopped them dead in their tracks. The Raiders were not able to get off one shot or even attain one corner in the first half. This made the job of Friar goalie Stephanie Scavelli very easy. Conversely, her counterpart, DeMarco, had her hands full, making eleven saves alone in the first half.

Already down a goal, Colgate’s problems became worse when Providence scored twice, in the span of seven minutes, to open up a 3-0 lead. Without any sort of offense, the burden fell upon the defense to keep the Raiders in the game. Despite the Friars 18 first-half shots and seven penalty corners, the damage was kept to a minimum by allowing only those three goals.

Unfortunately, the second half was not any better for the Raiders, as Providence did not relent on offense or defense. Although Colgate was finally able to muster some flow on offense, it was too little, too late. First-year Lauren Carey scored her second goal of the weekend in the 52nd minute, which served as the Raiders sole bright spot of the afternoon.

“Our struggle to create offense against PC resulted from playing a tentative and hesitant game in the first half. We were letting the Friars cut us off, receive the ball and control the pace of the game. Once we started beating them to some balls and intercepting passes in the midfield we were able to generate a lot more offense in the second half, unfortunately we couldn’t convert them into goals,” said Flisnik.

With non-conference play coming to a disappointing and rough conclusion, Colgate must quickly find a way to resolve its problems on both sides of the field. Still in search of a first road victory of the year, the Raiders will get two more chances next weekend, when they travel to Holy Cross and Brown.

“I think we needed those two games to get us angry and hungry for a win. We all want to avenge last weekend and there’s no better team to take out our anger on than Holy Cross. They are one of the top teams in the league, and we need to be fired up to defend our success from last year against them. We have shown really positive things in games here and there, but we have yet to piece them all together into one successful game. Saturday is a great time for that to happen. I have no doubt we’ll be ready,” senior defender Jenn Weisholz said. The contest against the Crusaders will mark the opening of the Raiders 2005 Patriot League schedule.