Cook Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive

With a huge Patriot League win against Lehigh at home, the Colgate men’s soccer team is back in contention to qualify for the Patriot League Tournament.Before squaring off against Lehigh, however, the Raiders traveled to Hartwick to square off with the 20th ranked team in the nation in a mid-week matchup. The Raiders entered this game hoping to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this season. This would be a tough task, as Hartwick has had an excellent year and is one of the best teams in New York.The Raiders had a tough game and were defeated by Hartwick 4-0, while seeing their overall record fall to 8-6. First-years Josh Cohen and Dan Belke split the goaltending duties for the night and let in two goals apiece.Head Coach Mike Doherty felt Hartwick outplayed. “Even though we gave up an early goal that was disputed, I felt they outplayed us in all areas of the field, he said. “We had a stronger second half, but they held us off and added more to their goal total. We had a bad night and you’re going to get beat on a bad night, especially against the 20th ranked team in the nation.”The Raiders had to regroup quickly after the loss, as they faced a must-win Patriot League game against Lehigh at home three days later. A loss would effectively end the Raiders’ chances of qualifying for the Patriot League tournament.On the back of a two-goal night by senior captain Jon Cook, the Raiders played an inspired game to beat Lehigh, 2-1. Cook scored in both halves, assisted by senior Justin Seconi in the first half and junior Sean O’Sullivan in the second half. The two goals by Cook give him 23 for his career, placing him in seventh place on the all-time list. It was a big win for the Raiders as they increased their overall record to 9-6 and their Patriot League record to 2-3. The win put them in fifth in the Patriot League, only one point behind Lehigh for the fourth and final playoff spot.Doherty saw this game as a complete turnaround from the loss to Hartwick. “This game was the complete opposite from the Wednesday game,” he said. “We controlled the game from the start and our back four moved the ball very well. I could see the Lehigh team got frustrated, which led to Cook’s goal in the first half. The second half play was even, but I still felt in the end we played better. We went up 2-0 on another great finish from Cook and our defense held strong, even though they gave up one goal.”The Raiders proved they could handle the pressure of playing in a must-win game and earned a much needed victory. For his big performance in Saturday’s game, Cook was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week. It was the first time he earned this honor this year and he did so in a very important game for his team.The team’s morale was boosted with the win and Doherty hopes for good things at the end of this season. “The Lehigh game was by far our best team game,” he said. “I just hope we can play our last three regular season games at the same level. I also feel that individuals like Cook, O’Sullivan and sophomore Eli Meyers really stepped up their play against Lehigh and I hope others will follow. A lot can happen in these next two weeks and I hope we can put some good games together and qualify for the tournament.”The Raiders have three games remaining, two of them Patriot League contests. The team faces off with Oneonta and Holy Cross in its last two games. If Colgate wins both those games and either Bucknell or Lehigh loses one of their final games, then the Raiders would slip into the tournament as the fourth seed.Doherty put much emphasis on the Holy Cross game. “We really need a win to stay alive in the playoff race, the coach said. “We need a win and not a tie. If we go to overtime, look for us to take some chances in order to get the win.”