Colgate men’s soccer has one regular season game left to play, and the pressure is building. After two one-goal losses last week to Army and Loyola Maryland, the Raiders head into their final regular season game at Lafayette on Saturday, November 5, tied for third place in Patriot League play.
The Raiders go into Easton, PA hoping to clinch the three-seed in the Patriot League men’s tournament. Senior defensive center-mid and captain Colin O’Neill talked about the team’s mindset going into the crucial Lafayette game.
“We have to eliminate all the different scenarios that can possibly happen in terms of being placed in the Patriot League tournament. Our main focus is to go in with a positive mindset and regroup this week in practice, get after it, and get a W,” O’Neill said.
The key to Saturday’s match is the defensive back line. Every single game since September 24 for Colgate has been decided by one goal or less. If the Raiders are to keep their hopes of a Patriot League Tournament championship alive, they must have a
O’Neill mentioned the importance of staying competitive on this side of the ball.
“Having a really solid and strong defensive performance throughout all 90 minutes is really important for us. It generates offensive opportunities, so keeping the ball out of the back of the net is key,” O’Neill said.
The pressure that will mount on Saturday has actually been building for 12 months. Last season, the men’s soccer team won the Patriot League regular season title. This season, although they are contending for the third seed and not the first seed in the tournament, the team has performed well under pressure.
O’Neill commented on what it’s like playing with the pressure of past teams looming over every game they’ve played this season.
“It’s been challenging, but our team has handled it tremendously well. Obviously when you win a regular season championship after having two really tough years prior to that, winning becomes an expectation and a habit. You get a target on your back. We’ve got to take it game-by-game,” O’Neill said.
This matchup bears significant off-field weight as well. O’Neill is a senior, which means that this upcoming game against Lafayette is his last regular season game of his Colgate career.
The political science major elaborated on what the past 72 games have meant to him.
“Playing a sport at Colgate is a pretty unique experience. Obviously it’s tough balancing the academic workload with a demanding athletic schedule, but the biggest benefit I’ve gotten is the community aspect. I love playing for Colgate each and every game because of my teammates. We’ve built an invaluable culture here in our soccer program that I will take with me after college. So going into my last regular season game, I’ve had thoughts of preserving whatever I have left [of my soccer career] and recognizing the importance of family,” O’Neill said.
The Raiders face off against Lafayette in their final away game before the Patriot League Tournament commences. The match is scheduled for November 5 at 4 p.m.