Men’s Soccer Defeats Syracuse in Season Opener



Jaime Heilbron

The Colgate men’s soccer team started its 2011 season off on the right foot, de­feating the visiting Syracuse Orange by a 1-0 margin in front of the largest crowd to ever show up at Van Doren Field. 1,664 people came to witness the first game of the year. First-year Jimmy McLaughlin scored his first intercollegiate career goal to give the Raiders the victory.

“It is great to see underclassmen step­ping up in big ways, especially with Jimmy scoring the game winner,” junior forward Shane Conlin said. “We are a very talented team with a lot of depth and our first-year class definitely adds to this depth. We lost some key guys from last year’s team, but we have also improved individually and as a team since last season. It is very im­portant and beneficial that we have new­comers who can step into different spots and make significant contributions on the field.”

While Colgate’s dominance throughout the match may not have been reflected on the scoreboard, the Raiders came out as a raging storm, establishing their game from the opening whistle with the aim of taking ownership of the ball. ‘Gate’s dominance is reflected in other statisti­cal categories such as total shots taken in which the Raiders led 15-3, and shots on goal, with seven for Colgate and none for the Orange.

The Raiders also maintained possession of the ball throughout most of the game and did not allow the Orange to play their best game.

“We play with a formation that con­sists of a 4-2-3-1, and with this style of play, we are trying to control possession and dictate the game,” Conlin said. “We want our opponents to have to adjust and make changes in order to adapt to our style of play, rather than us having to change the way we play. We have a very strong back line, and by playing with two defensive center midfielders as well as four attacking players, we have the for­mation and the tools to control the game against any team we play.”

As Colgate had possession of the ball for most of the first frame, it also enjoyed the half ‘s best scoring opportunities. The Raid­ers were unable to score, however, as most of their shots went wide, failing to trouble the goal protected by Syracuse too often. After 45 minutes of analyzing their opponent, Colgate and the Orange went into the second half deadlocked in a scoreless draw.

Things would change quickly, however, and the intensity of the game picked up on both sides. Just seven minutes into the second half, McLaughlin scored off a rebound after Syracuse’s goalkeeper failed to secure the ball while making the initial save, putting the Raiders ahead.

As it usually happens, the goal opened up the game and made the remaining 38 minutes the most entertaining of the contest. The Orange were overcome by an urgency to seek the tying tally, opening up spaces in their backend that Colgate was able to take advantage of.

The Raiders had several opportunities to score through several individual plays in which players showcased their dribbling skills. Conlin almost had the definitive goal on his foot twice in consecutive plays during the dying minutes of the contest. In the first, the ball hit the crossbar off a bomb, and in the second, he missed by a single inch.

Syracuse’s goalkeeper proved himself to be his squad’s best player, coming through on countless occasions and drowning Colgate’s cry of, “Goal!” The Orange had one last chance to tie the game in its final seconds off a free kick from midfield, but the ball went wide as the Raiders rushed the field to celebrate their first victory in a promising start to the campaign.

The cheers of the home crowd and the comfort of Van Doren Field led the team to victory.

“Playing on Van Doren Field in front of our fans is something that we take very seriously,” Conlin said. “Our home field is a sacred ground to us, and on Van Doren, we play with the mindset that our opponent is trying to take something away from us and that we are protecting our family.”

This coming Sunday, Colgate will travel to Villanova, PA to take on the Villanova University Wildcats. The match is slated for a 1 p.m. start.