Youth Is Served As Men’s Lax Upsets Villanova

Of the 35 players on this year’s men’s lacrosse team, 24 of them are first-years or sophomores. While some may see youth as a limitation, the Raider youngsters proved to be up to the task in the first game of the year, leading Colgate to an upset over nationally-ranked Villanova. Including a 5-4 loss to open last season, Colgate had not beaten Villanova in its last three tries. The Raiders seemed determined to change the trend as they opened Saturday’s game with a 2-0 lead. Sophomore attacker Brendan Hurley started the scoring with 13:20 left in the first quarter, and junior midfielder Mark Nemith extended the lead with an unassisted goal two minutes later. However, the Wildcats battled back for three goals, heading into the second with a 3-2 lead after out-shooting the Raiders, 13-2, in the opening stanza. Capitalizing on a man-up opportunity, Hurley netted his second goal of the game, knotting the game at three. After Villanova tallied two more goals to take a 5-3 lead, first-year midfielder Matt Lalli scored with five minutes left in the period to bring Colgate back within one goal heading into the half. The Raiders were able to tie the game once again as junior midfielder Rob Trasolini found sophomore Jeff Hiller during a man-up opportunity, making it a 5-5 contest with less than 14 minutes left to play in the third. Colgate took the lead heading into the final quarter when sophomore Rob Ryan connected with Lalli for the first-year’s second goal of the game with just 1:23 left.The Ryan-Lalli combo proved dangerous on two more occasions in the final quarter. Four minutes after the Wildcats had tied the game at six, Lalli recorded a hat trick, netting his third goal of the game with 10:23 left. Lalli then set up Ryan for an insurance goal with 2:13 left to play. Junior goaltender Andrew Jarolimek stopped all remaining shots, giving the Raiders an 8-6 victory over the Wildcats. “Saturday was a big win for us,” head coach Jim Nagle noted. “We were coming off a tough scrimmage where we got it handed to us by Hobart [in a 10-3 loss].”Youth proved to be useful for the Raiders in Saturday’s contest, as Lalli recorded a hat trick and an assist, while Ryan and Hurley combined for five points. “We are more experienced than we have ever been offensively,” Nagle said. “Our defense is a little young, though. We started two first-years on defense [Chris Mulholland and E.J. Atamian].”Even though youth – or their lack of experience-may be considered the weakness of this year’s squad, Nagle explained that the Raiders are deeper than they have ever been, with great team speed. “This year’s seniors are a great group of guys, real unselfish kids,” said Nagle, who is in his fourth year as head coach. “They may not show up in the box score, but they are the real leaders of the team.”The captains for this year’s team are Jarolimek and senior midfielders Adam Hershman and Matt Saxon. Jarolimek, who was the Patriot League co-Rookie of the Year in 2003, started every game last season. The Silverthorne, CO native recorded 157 saves last year, finishing with a .569 save percentage and 8.2 goals against average. Hershman appeared in eight games last season, registering one assist and a .415 face-off percentage, while Saxon tallied three goals.Leading the defense this season will be sophomore Colin Hulme, who appeared in every game last season, picking up 16 groundballs. The Raiders, who finished with an 8-7 record last season, were picked to finish fifth in the Patriot League this year in the preseason poll. Nagle says that the team hopes to win the league and get better every week. It will be a challenge for the Raiders to win the league this season, as defending champion and fourth-ranked Navy looks to repeat. The Midshipmen posted a 15-3 record and finished second in the nation after falling in the NCAA Championship game. Colgate and Navy face off on March 19. The highlight of the season may be in April, when the Raiders host North Carolina in Hamilton. The Tar Heels were NCAA quarterfinalists last season, and College Sports Television has decided to air the game. “It should be a fun game for everybody,” Nagle said. “We hope some fans can come out and see us play.”The team will look to start the season off with a winning streak as it takes on Sacred Heart tomorrow at 1 p.m.