Men’s Soccer Set to Play First Game in Over a Year

For the first time since Nov. 9, 2019, the Colgate Men’s Soccer team will be playing a match, opening their 2021 season against Army this Saturday. Players and coaches alike are incredibly eager to play a competitive match after a hiatus of over a year, which included the patient wait to see if the team would even have a season during the pandemic.

“We wanted to send the message of ‘be ready when the time comes,’” said Head Coach Erik Ronning. “We’ll all know it’s real when they blow that whistle next Saturday at two o’clock. The guys have been tremendous the entire semester and last semester, and we’re really starting to look like a soccer team again.”

Last season, the team finished with a record of 6-9-4 and lost in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament to Lafayette, dealing with a plethora of injuries throughout. The team has long awaited the opportunity to bounce back and believes an organized and sturdy brand of soccer is the way to do it.

“I know we have an amazing group of players and teammates and we are going to do really well this season,” sophomore midfielder Bobby Foose said. “I believe we are at our best when we are sharp and compact defensively and are composed on the ball, keeping it as well as we can.”

Despite the unusual circumstances of a Spring season, the expectations remain the same: to win a championship. Before last season, the Raiders were three-peat Patriot League Tournament Champions, winning consecutively from 2016-2018. This season, the first four matchups of the seven scheduled games for the team count directly toward the divisional standings, and the top two teams in each division will go head-to-head for a championship. Ronning is stressing the importance of taking it one game at a time, and only focusing on what his team can control.

“We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves, or get too high or too low. At the end of the day, our expectation is that we want to compete for a championship. We can’t think about game four or game five or game two for that matter. Really, we are thinking about what we can do in the coming days to get better,” Ronning said.

This season, the team has just four seniors and will be relying on the play of many sophomores and juniors who are looking to step up and contribute. Junior defender Baraka Kiingi believes that a culture of healthy competition is pushing the squad in the right direction.

“We have a brand new team of competitors who want to be on the field,” Kiingi said. “We have a bunch of guys who don’t know what it’s like to win a Patriot League (championship), and who are eager to win one. It’s important for us as upperclassmen to be strong role models for the younger guys and show them what it’s like to play and train for Colgate.”

Heading into the season opener, Ronning knows that his team will be fired up to finally take the field and compete against an opponent other than themselves and that they will not take this opportunity for granted. The game is set to kick off Saturday at 2 p.m. at Beyer-Small field in Hamilton.

“The most important thing is that we take stock of what we have,” Ronning said. “We are just excited to be able to compete with one another, and we just want to do whatever we can to put our best foot forward and be successful.”