For a coach, battling the elements is always a daunting challenge. For Head Coach Cathy Foto, however, it is just another part of the game.
“We don’t think the weather is bad unless the turf is covered in snow,” she said.
Despite intermittent showers throughout the contest, Colgate blanked Robert Morris, 2-0, on Saturday afternoon at Tyler’s Field.
Coming into the game, the Raiders had thrived off the performances of senior co-captain Dana Shaner, who has seven goals and three assists in the young season. On Saturday, it was the heroics of the other co-captain, junior goalkeeper Jacque DeMarco, that inspired the team.
“Jacque has always been instrumental in our games, but against Robert Morris, she really stepped up and kept us in the game,” first-year forward Lauren Carey said. “She motivated our team to keep on pushing ourselves and to never let our guard down.”
For a team without any upperclassmen, Robert Morris possessed surprising feistiness and aggressiveness. As a result, the Raider defense was constantly tested. Despite earning only two penalty corners, Robert Morris continuously knocked at the doorstep of DeMarco and the Raider defense.
Senior defender Jenn Weisholz praised the team’s defense for “staying composed and playing our own game. They kept trying to switch positions and run in circles to confuse us, but we all remained aware the entire time and stepped up our communication.”
The Colonials totaled 14 shots in the game, but it was all for naught because DeMarco’s defense was downright dynamic.
With the Raider defense holding strong, the offense went to work. With a quick goal in the game’s first five minutes, the Raiders sent the message that they meant business. The sophomore tandem of Lauren Remkus and Natali Plesniarski hooked up for the first Colgate goal, with Plesniarski scoring her first tally of the season. The Raiders maintained the pressure for the remainder of the first half, totaling 10 shots and seven penalty corners.
After intermission, Colgate picked up right where it left off, as the women registered another seven shots and nine corners. The effort culminated with 15:00 left in the contest, when Shaner capitalized off a penalty corner. Her goal put the Raiders up by two goals and the defense closed the door, rejecting all Robert Morris chances in the final moments.
The win was the first shutout of the year for DeMarco and her seventh career clean slate.
On Sunday afternoon, the Raiders proved that they have the talent to compete with a top team, yet came up just short against Lock Haven, losing a heartbreaker, 2-1 in overtime at Tyler’s Field. The loss snapped the Raiders’ four-game winning streak and also marked the first home loss for Colgate this year.
“We knew that they would be the fastest and most skilled team we have played to date,” Foto said. “When we ended their unbeaten streak last year, they were pretty disappointed and we knew that would be a factor as well.”
The Raiders opened the game just like any other, attempting to establish the offense and dictate the pace of the game. However, unlike Colgate’s previous opponents, Lock Haven made the Raiders work extremely hard – not only to score, but also to initiate movement and offensive flow.
“Our team is always pushing to score and we have become successful at it, but Lock Haven had their entire team trying to keep us out of their circle, which made it more difficult to penetrate,” Carey said. “We had many chances to score but we were just unlucky.”
The visitors, however, were effective in their offensive sets and scored off of a penalty corner to take a 1-0 lead. Throughout the remainder of the first half, the Colgate offense looked rattled and was unable to get into any flow, thanks to the continuous and intense pressure put on by Lock Haven.
After halftime, the Raiders hoped to make the necessary changes to find seams within the Eagle defense. As a testament to Foto and her ability to make adjustments, first-year defender Kaley Zaharris scored her first collegiate goal six minutes into the second half to tie the game at one,
“We just realized that we were not playing at the level of our potential,” Weisholz said. “We are such a solid team and we just need to recognize our capabilities and see the connections that will lead to scoring. It was a game of poise and intensity rather than skill.”
After Zaharris’ goal, the intensity picked up from both teams, as they scrapped together to decide the game. But despite many opportunities down the stretch, neither team could capitalize again, and so the game had to be decided in sudden-death overtime.
“Fatigue is always a factor in overtime, but our team has a lot of heart and is always ready to take on the challenge,” Carey said. “We are very close with each other and would do anything to help out our teammates, so we can always count on each other to come through.”
Five minutes into the overtime period, Lock Haven demonstrated why it is a nationally ranked squad. Grinding it out, the Eagles persevered and outmaneuvered the Raiders en route to the 2-1 overtime victory.
Lock Haven goalkeeper Becca Yerkes was the primary reason why Colgate lost its first and last game on this homestand. She came into the game with a 1.33 goals against average and gave the Raiders a taste of her stinginess. Her counterpart DeMarco was almost as successful, but in the end it was one of those days where the ball did not take Raider bounces.
Despite the loss, the Raiders can use this game as a stepping-stone to realize what needs to be done in order to become an elite team.
“We all know our ultimate goal – to return to the Patriot League Tournament and to win it,” Weisholz said. “We need to keep that vision with us while playing tough teams. With each game our confidence is growing, so by the time we play Patriot League games, we are going to be so prepared to take them on – and win.”
Colgate will get four more chances to take on nationally recognized programs later in the year. With the completion of their five-game homestand, the Raiders take to the road for the next two weeks, beginning at Westchester on this evening.