Men’s Soccer Victorious in Dramatic Patriot League Finish

Emma Barge

Colgate men’s soccer triumphantly re­turned to Hamilton this week after fight­ing to the top of the Patriot League Tour­nament and taking down American in a 2-0 shutout win in Washington D.C. Af­ter an exciting penalty kick victory over Lehigh on Friday afternoon, the Raid­ers walked away with their first Patriot League title since 200

American and Colgate started the game intensely focused and aware of the stakes. Both teams entered into the finals, hav­ing played in scoreless double overtime semifinals that were ultimately decided with penalty kicks and both were deter­mined not to end regulation time without a tally on the board.

The Raiders were in control as play began, opening up several scoring oppor­tunities and continuously pressuring the American defense. Senior Steven Miller was the first to strike and was followed closely by junior Shane Conlin who made a break down the right wing, cut to the middle and passed to Nick Arpey in the box. Officials called Arpey offside, but Colgate did not stop challenging the goal with several corners and long throws from sophomore Barrett Metzger.

American responded by creating oppor­tunities of its own, but junior Grant Reed was a force to be reckoned with in the goal and broke up all attempts.

After yet another scoreless period, the teams retreated to the locker rooms for half time. When they returned, it was the Eagles who took control and kept the ball close to the Colgate goal. With more urgency on both parts, play became much more physical and the pressure to be the first on the board snowballed. At that point, Colgate broke through at the 69:19 mark when junior Mike Garzi connected with a cross from Metzger in the box with a diving header to take the first goal of the competition.

With a new momentum for the Raid­ers and even more urgency in American’s game, the tempo picked up even more. The Eagles forced Colgate back into a de­fensive formation in the final 15 minutes of play as they continued to seek an equal­izer. Despite their best efforts, however, junior Mike Reidy burst into a fast break down the right wing and beat a trio of American defenders with some fancy foot­work down the middle, scoring the Raid­ers’s second goal at the 82:00 mark. After the second tally hit the board, it was clear that the Eagles would be unable to make a comeback.

“I am so happy for this team,” Head Coach Erik Ronning said. “We have grown so much throughout the course of this sea­son and this accomplishment is a result of [the players’] belief, perseverance and character. American is a great team and it was an even game. I thought it would come down to one play and we were for­tunate enough to make it. We are look­ing forward to a much deserved day off, and preparing for the NCAA Tournament. This is a special group of young men and I know they will represent Colgate proudly.”

When all was said and done, co-cap­tains Mike Reese and Miller were named Patriot League All-Tournament Team members. Miller, who was the reigning 2011 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, also took the tournament’s Most Valuable Player title.

Colgate will play Rutgers in the open­ing round of the NCAA tournament tonight at 7 p.m. in Piscataway, N.J.

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