The start of the 2010 season has not been an easy one for the Colgate women’s soccer team. It began last Sunday, August 22, as the team visited then No. 17 Virginia Cavaliers and fell by a score of 6-0.
While sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Walsh produced 11 saves, it was still not enough to stop the powerful Cavalier offense. Five days later the Raiders traveled to New Jersey to face newly No. 17 Rutgers University. Despite stronger overall play and another impressive performance by Walsh, Colgate still fell 4-1. This past Sunday, the Raiders dropped to 0-3 after surrendering an early lead to the Syracuse Orange and eventually losing, 2-1.
The women’s soccer season began several days before most of the student body returned to campus. They opened their season by facing one of the most challenging opponents they will meet this season in the Cavaliers.
During the initial 15 minutes of the first half the Raiders seemed tentative, perhaps studying their opponents or even just overcoming first-game jitters. The first goal of the contest came at the 16th minute of the game when Virginia’s Meghan Lenczyk took a shot from 15 yards out.
Later in the first half the Cavaliers would increase their lead to 2-0. just before the half on a beautiful shot from 25 yards out to the far post. The Cavaliers were ahead by two and the floodgates had been opened.
The first goal of the second half came early, giving Virginia a three-goal lead. At the 50th minute, Sinead Farrelly put a shot past Walsh from the top of the 18 mark. 15 minutes later saw the beginning of a whirlwind of goals, given that the Cavaliers scored three goals in the 66th, 71st and 74th minutes to take a commanding 6-0 lead that would stand throughout the rest of the match. Walsh certainly stood out for the Raiders, saving 64 percent of the shots she faced.
“It is not often that we get to play against a team that has so much speed and skill,” senior defender Calista Victor said. “When we played UVA we were forced to play faster, smarter and harder. They pushed us and we are better for it.”
Five days later Colgate took another long trip to face a nationally ranked opponent in the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The first half of the game was very tightly played once again. Both teams attacked and tried to take the lead, but for most of the frame the two goalkeepers stood strong. It would not be until the final minute of the stanza that Rutgers would get on the scoreboard. Scarlet Knight April Price scored from the left side of the box to give her team a 1-0 lead.
The second half of the match was much more active than the first. Rutgers increased its lead to 2-0 off a penalty kick at the 51st minute, but 12 minutes later Colgate temporarily cut the lead, as sophomore forward Jillian Kinter scored the Raiders’ first goal of the year, assisted by junior midfielder Maddie Malone, heading the ball past a defender.
Ten minutes later, however, Price scored her second goal of the game, putting the ball past a diving Walsh.
With 10 seconds left in the game, the Scarlet Knights scored the last one of the contest to put up the definitive 4-1 finish. Sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Walsh once again had a solid showing, stopping seven out of the 10 shots she faced.
“We played well against Rutgers, but Rutgers is a good team and they capitalized on the few mistakes we made,” Victor said. “We did not defend well enough as a team and it cost us.”
Two days after its loss to Rutgers, Colgate traveled to nearby Syracuse University to take on the highly competitive Orange squad.
The first half of the contest against Syracuse was the best one to date played by the Raiders. They showed better precision and controlled the play of the game at times. Colgate had the best chances to score in the first half and capitalized to take the Orange completely by surprise.
The Raiders’ efforts would be rewarded 31 minutes into the frame when senior forward Anna Baldwin scored her first goal of the year and Colgate’s second of the
season, assisted by Malone.
The Orange seemed to wake up in the second half, however, and destroyed the Raiders’ hard work by immediately tying the game, when Brielle Heitman scored her first goal of the game at the 48th minute in an unassisted effort.
Heitman struck again eight minutes later, scoring her second one of the contest, which would also be the last one as the Orange would go on to win the game by a score of 2-1.
Walsh continued her stellar play, stopping nine out of 11 shots.
“Our team has been improving,” Victor said. “These past few games have been tough but we have responded well to the losses. It is important that we stay confident and positive while we work to improve our play. If we are able to do that, I have no doubt that this will be a very successful season.”
Colgate will next take the field this coming weekend as it participates in the Dartmouth Nike Classic Tournament, where they will face off against the hosts on Friday at 7 p.m.