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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

No Quit: A Statement Season for Raider Football

Running+Wild%3A+Junior+Michael+Brescia+ran+for+two+touchdowns+as+Colgate+finished+the+season+with+a+24-21+victory+over+Fordham.
Olivia Hokanson
Running Wild: Junior Michael Brescia ran for two touchdowns as Colgate finished the season with a 24-21 victory over Fordham.

“Head down and work.” 

That was the mantra for Colgate University’s football team as they headed into the 2023 season, said Owen Goss, senior defensive back and one of the team’s three captains for the year. The 2022 season didn’t turn out the way that anyone wanted; it was a result that stung most because the team knew that they were capable of far more than what the final standings reflected. 

Colgate’s two other team captains, senior linebacker Mike Slivka and junior quarterback Michael Brescia, weighed in on the team’s preseason mentality coming off of last year. They highlighted the importance of building a winning ethos and praised the team’s renewed focus and commitment to hard work in the offseason. 

“[Last year’s record of] 3-8 isn’t Colgate football. We’ve had a long tradition of winning championships here and, obviously, that’s not where we wanted to be. But [we knew] we had a really talented team and good leadership heading into the offseason. We knew that the key to bringing us to where we wanted to be meant building up a strong winning culture. There was a big focus on putting in the extra work because champions do extra — that was the collective mindset heading into this year,” Brescia said. 

Slivka added that the team’s focus has been steadfast, even during the summer training period.

“Things don’t really change. Our goal is always that championship ring, but, obviously, there are a lot of steps to get there. This offseason, [the team was] probably the most locked in that they’ve ever looked since I’ve been here. We had 80 guys up here all summer putting in the extra work. I think the biggest thing that was on all our minds was belief and faith. Just believing that we could do what we knew we were capable of,” Slivka said. 

No memorable season comes without bumps in the road, though. The Raiders started off the year 0-4 and, as they headed into week five to face Cornell University on the road, the team knew that their backs were against the wall. Rather than feeding into a spiral of downward momentum though, the team stuck to its guns. The pillars of staying locked in no matter which way the tides were turning kept the team focused as they headed to Ithaca. 

“That was probably the most pressure that a game could have for a program, aside from maybe being in a national championship or playing in the playoffs. Going down to Cornell on their homecoming weekend in front of 15,000 fans to go 0-5 [with a loss] would have put us in a really bad spot,” Goss said. “That was the win that gave us hope — that got us going.”

There are times in every sports program’s life when the burden of adversity it faces reaches an apex; the Cornell game was that crucible moment for the Raiders. It was a back-and-forth thriller that had no less than five lead changes, but, when the dust had settled, Colgate came out on top with a 35-25 win. 

Brescia summarized the factor that made the difference in that game. 

“[The win required] relentless belief and persistence in what we’ve been doing,” Brescia said. “The guys did a great job of continuing to grind and not giving up and getting flustered. We were glad that we could get that win and start the momentum going into the next couple weeks and keep building.”

“There was never any finger-pointing or anything like that. We were a very tight-knit group, everyone had each other’s back and that helped a lot too,” Slivka added. 

After the win against Cornell, the tides turned for the Raiders. The culture and belief that kept the team steady through defeat became the fuel for a phenomenal turnaround in the back half of the season. In Colgate’s next game — their own Homecoming Weekend appearance — the Raiders emerged victorious in a nail-biting 27-24 overtime contest against Dartmouth College. They then went on to win four of their last five games, with commanding wins over Georgetown University, Lehigh University, Fordham University and a spectacular overtime victory against #16 ranked Lafayette College. 

“We were behind in the first half, then we came back and built momentum. [Everyone was] feeding off of each other — the offense, the defense, the special teams. We just started to put everything together in the second half of that game and came out with a great win. And like [Slivka] said before, it really was about everybody having each other’s back and continually fighting together and believing [in ourselves], regardless of what the opponent’s rank was,” Brescia said.  

Colgate Football made a statement with their season this year. When the chips were down, they held strong to their core values of believing in themselves and lifting each other up. They finished the season with a record of 6-5 — the first time since 2018 that the team has broken the .500 mark

“This season was symbolic of this senior class. Coming into my first year, [we had to deal with] COVID-19 and a bunch of other stuff; things really didn’t go our way. All we’ve ever known at Colgate in this culture and this program is to just keep working and that’s what we did this season. [The year’s success] is symbolic of the hard work that this senior class has put in and laid the foundation for years to come with this program,” Goss said. 

“It goes back to all the pillars that we talk about: grit, brotherhood, discipline and trust. Adversity hits you and, when you get punched in the face, you can either punch back or curl into a ball and hope things get better. But everyone came to work every single day. Everyone kept that sense of self-belief. We’re getting back to Colgate Football. [This season was] the first step to helping get the program back on track,” Slivka said. 

“It’s about the relentless persistence and starvation for greatness and not letting little setbacks tank the whole season. Because we have such a great culture, belief in each other, belief in our coaches and belief in this program, we were able to have our first winning season since 2018 and [we are looking] to continue that momentum into the offseason for next year,” Brescia said. 

We are a long way out from the 2024 season, but the Raiders are already putting in the work to make next season another step forward for the program. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but when you have a group of people who buy into the merits of hard work and self-belief, success becomes a matter of not ‘if’ but ‘when.’

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About the Contributor
Richie Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor
Richie Rosen is a sophomore from Los Angeles, CA concentrating on economics with a minor in political science. He has previously served as a staff writer for the Commentary, Baker's Dozen, and Sports sections. On campus, Richie is involved in the Colgate Investment Club, the Ski Club, and a greek letter organization. 

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