Last fall, the Colgate Men’s Soccer team ended their season as Patriot League regular season champions. The team is looking to repeat their League victory and advance further in post-season play. They have a total of nine returning starters, and a strong incoming class of first-year athletes. The team will rely on the veterans to lead and get the first-years accustomed to the
intensity of Division One athletics.
Head Coach Erik Ronning is looking forward to what the upperclassmen-heavy team can bring to the table.
“I want to focus on my veteran squad this season, having players like Ethan
Kutler and other upperclassmen lead the team,” Ronning said.
The team has been holding three practices a day to emphasize the conditioning needed to compete in the Patriot League and to hone their skills. The team bears the weight of last years league championship, and they do not want to disappoint this season.
Ronning is pressing players to put in the work during pre-season so that they can come into the regular season strong.
“We want to concentrate on the process. The trust and execution, as well as the chemistry on this team, is as good as it’s ever been,” Ronning said.
The three-a-day practices have also been key for introducing new players to the level of fitness required to perform at the Division One level. First-year defenseman Fuki Goto spoke about the difference between high school soccer and the collegiate level of competition.
“It’s definitely more physical, and being bigger physically is much more important for aerial play,” Goto said.
As this is his first year on the collegiate platform, Goto expressed that he has had to make a conscious effort to adjust to the speed with which collegiate players move the ball.
Many athletes experience this learning curve in their first year when adjusting to the speed of play on the field. The decision-making process has to be shortened when on the field to keep the ball in motion and to maintain possession. This, in addition to the physicality, is the greatest challenge to young players in their first year of collegiate competition.
Despite these challenges, it seems that the incoming players have what it takes to impress senior forward Ethan Kutler.
“We have experienced returning players this year as well as a very strong group of first-years to help us out, so overall I think we have a balanced and competitive team this year,” Kutler said.
Although the Raiders recently suffered a tough loss to Northwestern University by a score of 2-1 in an exhibition match, the team took away a lot of positive things from the match. The match was played in 100-degree weather, which Kutler believed helped the team’s fitness. Ronning felt that the team showed a commitment to their defensive strategy and was able to identify points in their gameplay that could use improvement and could be addressed later on in practice.
The Raiders will be opening their season against Loyola Marymount this Friday in the Central New York Classic at 6 p.m. on Beyer-Small ‘76 Field. They will then close out the tournament against Massachusetts two days later at 4 p.m. at home.