The Raiders were very successful over Homecoming Weekend making a lot of the alumni soccer players who came back proud. The Raiders (3-3-1) played Fairleigh Dickinson and Siena, winning both games 3-1.
Sophomore Ethan Kutler was the player to watch this past weekend, coming into these two games on a hot streak. Kutler not only met expectations, he surpassed them, ending the weekend with five goals. He scored all of the Raiders goals in the game against Siena after a trailing in the first half 1-0. Watching the team in the first half was brutal; they were constantly on defense and had some trouble possessing the ball in the offensive zone. Kutler was all but shutdown, and the Raiders had very few offensive chances.
In the second half of this Sunday match against Siena, however, Kutler went off. He dominated the offensive zone, consistently going through several defenders at a time before he either shot the ball or dished it off to a fellow teammate for other offensive opportunities.
“Kutler is critical to our offense this year,” sophomore defenseman Zach Tamen said. “Not only is he an incredibly talented player in the sense that he can beat one, two, or three players and finish, but he is also a very smart player.”
Kutler has all but one of the Raiders goals this season, tallying an impressive nine goals in just seven games. Kutler’s performance was so impressive this past weekend that he was named College Soccer News National Player of the Week.
In addition to Kutler’s offensive prowess, senior captain Tanner Schilling cited a couple other things contributing to the team’s overall success. “We moved the ball very well and efficiently. No one took to many touches on the ball and everyone played unselfishly,” senior captain Tanner Schilling commented on factors contributing to the team’s overall success.
The upcoming Patriot League games are going to be a challenge for the Raiders. The next three games on the schedule are Lafayette, Syracuse and Loyola; all three of these teams are going to be tough opponents. The team is coming off two huge wins, and it is important that they keep their heads about them as they head into the games that actually matter for the season.
“The biggest challenge is winning every Patriot League game and setting ourselves up to win the league,” Schilling said about the remainder of the season. “We still have some growing as a team to do, but overall we are taking steps in the right direction.”
After both of the games this past weekend, the Raiders looked much more like a cohesive unit, and I believe that they are ready to take on the Patriot League.
It is also important to note that while the Raiders have generated quite a bit of offensive opportunities, it has pretty much been Kutler generating those opportunities. It is critical that the team continues to help Kutler out, but also for them to generate other scoring opportunities, especially when considering the fact that the opposing teams are going to have Kutler marked very well.
This provides a perfect opportunity for the first-years to come into play. So far this season, the first-years have been critical to the Raiders’ success; several of them have started games and played a significant amount.
“Our freshmen have grown tremendously over the past couple weeks, Kutler said. “They have made an irreplaceable contribution to the team.”