Back On The Rise

After a strong start to its season, the Colgate men’s soccer team played to a tough 1-1 draw against Cornell last weekend.

The men’s team competed well the week before, allowing no goals and going 1-0-1 in two games. The team played very well defensively, while the offense and midfield were still trying to find their scoring rhythm.

Head Coach Eric Ronning was happy with the team’s performance last week, but he emphasized that the team still has a long way to go. He feels that the team has the necessary ingredients for victory, but only through hard work can the men continue to be successful.

Last weekend, the Raiders headed to Ithaca for a showdown with the Cornell Big Red. As in the week before, the team was without senior captain Sean O’Sullivan who was still nursing a leg injury. O’Sullivan will add a big boost to the midfield when he returns, but because of his absence from the lineup other players on the team have stepped up big time.

In a hostile away environment in Ithaca, the Raiders played what Ronning called “their best game as a team” and were able to come away with a well-earned 1-1 tie.

The Raiders fell behind in the first half, but in the second half the team pressed and was able to find the equalizer. Junior Devin Deane scored the goal, assisted by classmate Kevin Toomey. The goal was Deane’s second of the season, accounting for all of the Raiders’ goals thus far this year.

Although the Big Red out-shot the Raiders, Ronning felt that that statistic was not indicative of how the game went.

“I thought we played with a lot of heart and we definitely had better scoring opportunities than Cornell did. Our defense was well-organized and I felt that our offense had some great chances that they were not able to put away. Overall the game was very even and I am glad to come out of there with a tie.”

Ronning was also very impressed with the play of junior Eli Meyers, who has played very well in the absence of O’Sullivan.

Even though the team played a great game, Ronning reiterated that there is still much improvement to be made, but he was glad with the progress he saw during the last week.

The Raiders completed their three-game road trip with a solid 1-0-2 record in which they only allowed one goal. The team handled opposing crowds very well, and that will be crucial when the team plays tough Patriot League games away from Van Doren Field.

The men will play two games at home against Albany on Wednesday and then a tough Patriot League game against Army on Saturday. After two weeks on the road, it will be a significant change of atmosphere for the Raiders in the friendly environment of Van Doren Field.

Ronning hopes to keep the team’s defense well organized and opposing team’s goals to a minimum. He also hopes that the offense can keep more possession and utilize the counter attack chances that the defense creates.

The Raiders have scored only two goals in three games, but Ronning is optimistic that as the offense gels, more goals are sure to come.

The team is especially looking forward to Saturday’s game against Army, its Patriot League opener. Last year’s Patriot League opener ended in heartbreak as the Raiders lost in overtime to a tough Lafayette squad.

However, this year’s squad hopes to reverse last year’s result and Ronning knows that his team will be ready for the game.

“There will definitely be a lot of emotion in that game on Saturday, but I know that we will be ready. We also have a tough game on Wednesday against Albany, but as long as we stick to our game plan, there is no reason that we cannot have success in both games.”

The Raiders are at a great point as a team and they hope to build on this strong start. The team has shown that it can handle tough road games, but now it is time to handle the pressure of being at Van Doren Field.

O’Sullivan is optimistic that he will play this week, adding a big boost to a team that is having some trouble scoring. Even if O’Sullivan does not play, the men have shown that they can step up under pressure and will need to do the same this week.