Colgate men’s soccer opened their regular season this past weekend with a two-game road swing out west, facing off against a pair of Top-25 foes. On Friday, August 30, the Raiders took on No. 20 Portland, and on Sunday they took on No. 22 Oregon State. The challenging start to the season tested the Raiders against the type of high-powered opponents that do not frequently appear during league play but have typically ended the team’s NCAA tournament run the past three years.
Expectations are at an all-time-high for the program. In 2016 and 2018, the team won a record 13 games. In 2017, they made it to the third round of the NCAA tournament. Last season, the team made it to the second round, defeating New Hampshire before falling to ACC powerhouse Wake Forest.
Not only have the Raiders been able to find success in the postseason, the team has also managed to capture three straight Patriot League titles, the first men’s athletic team in Colgate’s history to do so. After experiencing such success the past three seasons, the team’s expectations, not only in Hamilton but also nationally, are sky-high.
Portland, OR was the Raiders’ first stop for their season opener game against 20 Portland. The Pilots dominated early, keeping possession and peppering the Colgate defense with a series of strikes in the first dozen minutes. The Pilots were able to beat Colgate senior goalkeeper Jacob Harris twice early on, but both of those shots bounced off the
crossbar and the game remained scoreless.
Colgate was able to put together a series of attacks and even out the pressure after the 15-minute mark, when sophomore midfielder Kian Alberto floundered an open look at net, shooting the ball directly at Portland’s junior goalkeeper Nico Campuzano. Just over ten minutes later, first-year forward Drew Fischer nearly scored in his debut game when he beat Campuzano with a low driven ball, but unfortunately the shot went just wide to the right of the goal.
The second half started similarly to the first with Harris being forced to make a series of impressive saves to keep the score level. The final chance of the game came to the Raiders in the 69th minute when senior midfielder Kentaro Morrison found himself on the left side of the box and fired off a shot that only Campuzano’s excellent positioning kept out of net. Neither team was able to put a shot on target throughout the final 20 minutes of regulation with overtime bringing more of the same, forcing both sides to settle for a scoreless draw.
In the second game of the trip on September 1, the Raiders went to Corvallis, OR to take on No. 22 Oregon State. Two years prior to the match on Sunday, the Raiders stunned Oregon State 1-0 in Hamilton in a game that put the Raiders on the national map. In this past weekend’s contest, first-year Drew Fischer scored his first collegiate goal and the teams first goal of the season in just the 5th minute when he sent a penalty kick into the lower right corner to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.
From there on out, however, the Beavers dominated the pace. In the 31st minute, OSU senior defender Eric Diaz was able to find a rebound in front of net and made an easy play to even the score 1-1.
With the game tied, the Raiders were just minutes away from ending their trip undefeated, but Oregon State had a different idea. With just three minutes left a mixup in front of their net let a cross through to the far side of the goal, where sophomore Beaver defender Alex Cover was able to get his head on the loose ball and score the game winner to leave the Raiders defeated 2-1.
The Raiders will come back for the team’s home opener on Friday, September 6 at 5 p.m. on Beyer-Small Field when the team takes on New Hampshire. UNH currently stands at 1-0-0 having won their season and home opener against Patriot League challenger Boston University 1-0 on August 29. Colgate and New Hampshire met last year in the first round of the NCAA tournament with the Raiders advancing with a 1-0 win off of a 62nd-minute goal from then-senior Steven Deleo.