The men’s lacrosse team continued their win streak this weekend despite the brutally frigid weather that swept through Hamilton. The Raiders hosted Lafayette College in their first Patriot League game of the season and came away with a 12-10 victory. This victory was especially important because of the fact that the Raiders lost to the Leopards last season in a nail-biter.
Senior co-captain and offensive powerhouse Ryan Walsh led the charge for the Raiders by tallying a hat trick and contributing heavily to the 7-1 lead the Raiders held at the end of the first quarter. Walsh also put up incredible numbers this time last season against Lafayette, tallying a total of seven points.
“We were doing a good job of being unselfish and we felt like we had the advantage in every individual match up,” said junior midfielder Cam William in summarizing the first quarter.
The Raiders have done a very good job this season of moving the ball in the offensive zone and creating opportunities for both outside rips and inside curls. One of the most prominent factors that differentiates this season from seasons past is the fact that the Raiders have taken their time in the offensive zone; this season they are moving the ball smoothly as they patiently wait for the mismatch or defensive slide that opens up the easy pass to the unguarded man. Another factor that contributed to the success the Raiders saw in the first half had to do with the defensemen getting the ball to the attackmen.
“The defensemen were doing a great job of getting the ball off the ground and clearing it to the offensive end,” senior midfielder and co-captain Matt Clarkson said.
In large part, the Raiders probably came out as hot as they did because they wanted to redeem themselves for their loss last year to Lafayette.
“It’s always nice to avenge a loss from the previous season, but we really just wanted to win our first Patriot League game and start conference play out on the right foot,” Williams said.
The Raiders let their lead slip during the second half of the game.
“In the second half we began to struggle as we started to force things,” said Clarkson.
While forcing things is not something the team has made a habit of so far this season, it was likely the freezing weather that made the Raiders play a little too eager in the offensive zone. Luckily, the Raiders were able to hold out against Lafayette and claim their third straight win this season. The Raiders out-shot the Leopards 37-31 and had 44 ground balls to Lafayette’s 34. The game of lacrosse starts on the ground, and the Raiders seemed to have dominated that aspect of the game. Colgate also killed Lafayette in face-off wins, claiming 17 out of the 25.
The team could not have asked for a better start to their season. Clearly, their pre-season practices and workouts have benefited them immensely. The team is very fit: they can play great defense and then be able to get the ball down to the offensive zone. Williams cites the team’s defense as being the lead cause for the Raiders’ early season success.
“The predominant factor in our early season success has been our defense. It all starts with our goalie Brandon Burke in the cage who has been phenomenal thus far,” Williams said.
Although it is still very early in the season, the Raiders currently top the Patriot League standings, with the best overall record. It will be very interesting to see if the Raiders can continue their winning streak this weekend when they travel to Bucknell. “Bucknell is a very talented squad and familiar opponent after having two one-goal battles against them last year,” Williams said.
Based off the Raiders performances thus far in the season, they should come out on top against Bucknell if they start the game with the intensity that they did with Lafayette and do a better job of not forcing passes and shots on net. The Raiders have demonstrated that they are capable of establishing a lead at the beginning of the game and holding it for the duration of the 60 minutes. All that stands in their way against Bucknell is their own mental state.