Women’s Lax Picks Up Where It Left Off

Through one half of its season-opener on Sunday, the Raider women’s lacrosse team bared little resemblance to the squad that claimed last year’s Patriot League championship. The women seemed out of sync on both ends of the field and, at halftime, trailed Albany, 3-2. Turns out the Raiders were just warming up. Colgate owned the second half, pounding Albany with eight goals en route to a 10-5 win at Tyler’s Field. “We were all really anxious about our first game,” junior midfielder Katie McVeigh said. “Once we calmed down and played more comfortably, we began to dominate.”The domination began with first-year Jess Van der Meulen’s goal at 21:59 in the second half, the first of three scores in the Liverpool, NY native’s first collegiate contest. “I think the biggest difference in the second half was our tone,” Van der Meulen said. “We set the pace and started to make things happen offensively and defensively. We made Albany react to us.” After junior co-captain Kelly Winning scored less than two minutes later on a free position shot, Van der Meulen gave Colgate the lead, 5-4, on a rebound of junior Amanda Bradshaw’s shot. Winning, who had two goals and five assists in the game, juked by three defenders for Colgate’s next goal as the Raiders began to pull away from an overmatched Albany team.McVeigh and sophomore midfielder Megan Janson finished what Van der Meulen had started, combining for the Raiders’ last four goals. McVeigh, a first team all-Patriot League selection in 2004, was closely monitored by the Albany defense for much of the game. As the second half wore on, she began driving towards the goal consistently, creating opportunities for herself by drawing penalties and capitalizing on free position shots.Janson’s two scores came just 41 seconds apart, effectively sealing the game for Colgate. Janson’s second goal was set up by her spectacular dodge past two Albany defenders on her way to the cage. The strong play of Janson and Van der Meulen was indicative of the important role of underclassmen on this year’s team. Another underclassman, sophomore Tara Casey, was perhaps the most dominant player on the field for the Raiders. Although she went scoreless on Sunday, Casey’s hyper-aggressive defense and great speed helped the Raiders control the ball for much of the second half.”I think that Tara had a great deal to do with our turnaround on Sunday,” McVeigh said. “She is so aggressive all over the field and her caused turnovers on defense really helped us rally as a team.”In goal for Colgate, junior Sue Bielamowicz had eight saves, including a stick save on a free position shot with just over 10 minutes to be played in the second half. The save kept Albany from tying the game and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.The Raiders, who lost only one senior from last year’s team, will rely on its mix of established play-makers like Winning, McVeigh and Bielamowicz and rising stars like Van der Meulen, Janson and Casey in its bid to repeat as Patriot League champions. The Raiders were picked to do just that in the league’s preseason poll; but they aren’t thinking about championships just yet.”While we have many long-term goals for our season,” McVeigh said, “we just want to take it one game at a time and continue to improve as the season progresses. We’re excited to prove ourselves as a great team again this year.” Colgate faces off against LaSalle at Villanova University on Sunday, looking to keep the momentum going from their explosive second half against Albany.