The Colgate men’s soccer team left the comfort of Beyer-Small ’76 field this week as they ventured to Syracuse, NY and West Long Branch, NJ to take on Syracuse University and Monmouth University respectively.
After a 2-0 start to the season, the Raiders faced their toughest matchup against the Orange, and ultimately fell 3-0. That is not to say, however, that the score necessarily reflected the game – this was a far closer match than the score suggests. Sophomore midfielder Tim Oberg came out of the gates firing, hitting the post in the fifth minute. Against a more talented team like Syracuse, a goal in the opening minutes would have significantly altered the strategy of the game, as Colgate would have likely sat back the rest of the game in an ultra-defensive set. Instead, the Orange responded in a big way, scoring off a penalty kick in the 23rd minute after a questionable call on the edge of the box went against senior defender Zach Tamen.
The Raiders appeared frustrated for much of the game, with the bigger, more athletic Syracuse team bullying them off the ball.
Senior forward Ethan Kutler felt there was a silver lining to playing such a quality opponent early in the season.
“Playing against an ACC school, the game is a lot more physical, and the pace of play is much faster. Now that we’ve seen the speed of an ACC school, we can do our best to match it,” Kutler said.
Ultimately, the Raiders played a tight game against Syracuse. In the second half, Syracuse retained the edge in possession, and simply capitalized on the few mistakes Colgate made.
Junior midfielder Chase Pagani echoed the sentiment that this game should not reflect poorly on the Raiders.
“Syracuse punished us for the mistakes we made. We just need to tighten the screws, and we can do better. They were a good opponent and were able to capitalize when we made mistakes,” Pagani said.
The Raiders were ready to bounce back come Sunday, however, and dealt Monmouth University a 3-0 loss. Tamen got back on track, scoring a left-footed volley into the bottom left corner assisted by sophomore defender Aram Ouligian in the 20th minute.
A mere nine minutes later, Kutler tallied his first of the game, and third goal of the season in spectacular fashion. After a Monmouth miscommunication on their backline, Kutler found himself in the six yard box with no defenders around, and a goalkeeper on his back. Kutler nonchalantly back-heeled an easy one into the net to give Colgate the 2-0 lead.
The Raiders’ final goal came with one minute to play in the game. Junior forward Jared Stroud curled a beautiful shot into the top right corner of the net while standing just a few yards off the left endline. Perhaps more interesting was his celebration – a flamboyant rendition of Cristiano Ronaldo’s signature 180 degree spin.
While some may say these games are of little consequence, as they are not against Patriot League opponents, the importance has not been lost on senior goalkeeper Ricky Brown.
“I hope we can continue the momentum [against Siena]. Out of conference results are going to weigh a lot in getting a bid for the NCAA tourney, which is a goal I have for the team,” Brown said.
Indeed, while the Patriot League tournament champion is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament, it is possible for other Patriot League teams to get bids, as long as they’ve posted quality wins against ranked opponents outside of their league. Winning now is a way for the Raiders to increase their chances of extending their season later this fall.
The Raiders travel to Loudonville, NY this Saturday to take on Siena College at 3 p.m.