Men’s Lacrosse Falls In Patriot League Opener

Mont Pooley

Ball security, or lack thereof, brought Colgate’s eight-year winning streak over Lafayette to a shocking end Saturday as the Raiders fell 8-7 in their first Patriot League matchup of the season. A five-goal, two-assist effort from junior attackman Ryan Walsh was simply not enough to overcome a four-goal deficit in the first half. Saturday saw the extension of a troubling trend for a Raiders offense that coughed up the ball 14 times and has now accrued 51 turnovers in just three contests.

Colgate appeared to be in control early on when first-year midfielder Will Mette netted his second goal of the season from a Walsh feed in the game’s first minute. However, Mette’s opening tally would prove to be the only bright spot of the first half for the struggling Raider offense. Lafayette doubled down on defense, forcing 10 turnovers in the first two quarters, cashing in on Colgate defensive breakdowns to rush ahead to a 5-1 lead. Lafayette’s opportunism on offense was best displayed when they scored twice in the first quarter’s final six seconds.

“Those are the kinds of mistakes we try to limit,” senior captain Bobby Lawrence said. “We can’t give up those looks at the end of a quarter and expect to build any kind of momentum.”

In the second half, Walsh assisted on another early tally, this time to sophomore Kevin Adams, but Lafayette was up to the task, answering two minutes later to reestablish a four-goal lead. It was midway through the third when the big attackman took the game squarely into his hands, burying three unassisted goals in under four minutes to bring the Raiders within one.

“The game opened up for us a little in the second half,” Walsh said, who extended his nation-leading streak of consecutive games with a goal to 34. “There was an added sense of urgency to score after such a bad first half.”

In the fourth, Colgate failed to capitalize on Walsh’s impressive third quarter run, surrendering a goal to Lafayette midfielder Jason Sands. Walsh quickly answered, gaining a step on his man from behind the cage and shooting through two Leopard defensemen. Lafayette made it 8-6 with just over five minutes to play, but Walsh wasn’t finished yet. The 6’4, 240-pound attackman dodged from the near wing and dove across the Leopards crease to score his fifth and final goal with three minutes remaining.

In need of one tally to tie the game, Colgate’s defense pressed out on Lafayette’s ball carriers, causing three turnovers in the game’s waning moments. Three possessions were not enough for the Raiders to find the back of the net, however, as Lafayette goalie Jake Hyatt stopped Ryan Walsh’s acrobatic final shot attempt.

Despite the loss, Colgate received impressive individual efforts from three players who have shown up to play repeatedly in the 2014 campaign. Face-off specialist Alex Kinnealey won 14 of 18 draws, pushing his season win percentage to 73 percent.

“AK was outstanding for us again today,” senior defensive midfielder Derek Katchis said. “He’s given us a ton of extra possessions with his play. We shouldn’t lose a game when we dominate the ‘X’ like that.”

Freshman goaltender Brandon Burke made 10 saves on Saturday and now boasts an impressive 4.8 goals against average in three starts. For Walsh, scoring five goals to match his career best and factoring in every Raider tally was no consolation for a concerning early-season loss. “Turnovers have plagued us this year, and we need to address that area of our game if we want to have success in this league,” Walsh said about the loss.

Colgate welcomes Bucknell to Andy Kerr Stadium this Saturday in what will be the Raiders’ biggest challenge yet. Colgate fell to the Bison 8-13 at home in 2013 and are hoping to avoid starting 0-2 in Patriot League play for the first time since 2010.

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