It is late October, which means that Colgate men’s soccer is turning to the home stretch of their regular season. At 10-4-1 overall and 4-1-1 in the Patriot League, the Raiders head into the last three games of the regular season looking to secure a high seed in the Patriot League tournament. They currently sit at third place in the Patriot League behind only American and Loyola Maryland. On October 30 in Baltimore, the Raiders face what will likely be their biggest game of the year against Patriot League rival Loyola Maryland.
2015 All-Patriot League first-team defender senior Zach Tamen elaborated on the importance of performing well down the home stretch, especially against the Greyhounds.
“We want to finish as high as possible and try to get the one or two seed in the league tournament,” Tamen said. “Loyola is the most important game on our schedule as they’re in second and we’re in third. Not to say that the other teams aren’t good; Army and Lafayette will certainly be tough. But getting ahead of Loyola would safely give us that first or second seed.”
A critical component of the team’s success is their superb defense. Tamen, as the back line’s anchor, commented on his defense’s unsung hero, senior goalkeeper Ricky Brown.
“Ricky is really crucial to our entire team’s on-field organization. He leads from the back, keeps our defensive shape together, and sets the tone for us. Playing on the back line, it’s really great to have him there,” Tamen said.
Brown, who garnered All-League third-team honors last season, leads the Patriot League with an astonishing seven shutouts in 14 games this season, three more than the next closest goalkeeper. Brown and Tamen’s defensive prowess are going to be critical if they are to run the table and earn a high seed in the Patriot League tournament. Loyola is second in the Patriot League, with an average of two goals scored per game in their six league games.
Two additional factors that have set up the Raiders for a late season charge are the team’s fitness and camaraderie. Tamen and Brown are two of six athletes on the team who have logged over 1,000 minutes on the field this season, a true hallmark of the Raider’s overall physical endurance.
Tamen attributes his group’s durability to the training staff and commented on their influence for the whole team.
“Our trainers do a great job of preparing us for the long season. Heather [health trainer] and Andrew [strength and conditioning] keep our bodies in great form, which allows us to perform well when it counts,” Tamen said.
While physical fitness is vital to on-field success, just as important, if not more important, is the team’s mental toughness. Tamen believes that the Raiders’ team chemistry has given them a distinct competitive edge, especially compared to strong years in the past.
“This year’s team chemistry and overall mentality is something I’ve never been a part of in my years playing soccer. We communicate so well and enjoy being around each other,” Tamen said.
The Raiders’ season is passing the 80-minute mark, and it is time for them to make a huge play that will turn the tide of their season from good to great. Their defense, fitness and team chemistry will provide the fuel for this charge that will hopefully lead them to Patriot League glory. With two more recent 1-0 victories against Hartwick and Navy on Senior Day, the Raiders seem to be on the right path. Hopefully the Raiders can continue to ride this momentum into a league championship and ultimately clinch a birth to the NCAA tournament in the weeks to come.