On friday, Lafayette will board a bus to make the trek to upstate New York, and their homecoming meeting with the Colgate Raiders. The Leopards arrive with a 6-3 record in tow, and still glowing in the victory that left them 1-0 in the Patriot League, having beaten the league preseason favorite and number 9 ranked team in the nation. Colgate is 1-10 and 0-2 on the season. So why am I writing “BEWARE THE COLGATE RAIDERS.”
In recent years Colgate has managed to be a tough opponent despite their record, especially in Hamilton, New York. Not only will the Leopards be greeted by a cold, cloudy fall day, but it will be homecoming for a team that is 0-2 in the league with a loss that would put them within one loss of being eliminated from post-season play. On the other hand a win by Lafayette would make them 2-0 in league play and one step closer, to not only post season play, but hosting the two day tournament.
The last visit to Hamilton ended in disappointment as Colgate won 1-0 eliminating Lafayette from the tournament. This was done despite a 14-9 advantage in shots and 12-7 advantage in corners. Colgate was helped with 8 saves. But close games are not rare between these two teams. In 2012 the regular season game was won by Lafayette 6-1 but only after a 1-0 lead by Colgate in the first half. The Leopards outshot Colgate 33-5 but the Colgate goalie came up with 15 saves. Colgate did make it to the semi final of the Patriot League tournament and gave Lafayette fits as the Leopards needed overtime to score a 4-3 win after a goal by Haley Keenan. The Leopards led in shots 28-7, corners 19-2, with the Colgate goalie getting 14 saves. Lafayette went on to win the tournament making later appearances against eventual national champion Princeton and defending champion Maryland.
In 2013 the Leopards fell behind 2-0 in the first half before coming from behind to win 4-3. Last year at home the Leopards locked up a Patriot League Tournament bid with 1-0 win against the 0-15 Raiders. It was Ellen Coulbourne’s first half goal that was to provide the difference.
This year, the Raiders despite their record, have come up with good efforts. Against Boston they held the Terriers to a 0-0 tie in the first half. In the second half, Boston found solutions to Colgate’s defense and won going away 9-0. Last saturday Holy Cross needed overtime to win 2-1 at Colgate. The next day Colgate saw Rider launch 41 shots to their 3, and give up 13 corners to their 1. Remarkably the Raider goalkeeper made 27 saves.
I have written about desperate teams and Colgate certainly has their back to the wall. But they will be at home, during homecoming. The Leopards should not take them lightly. I had counted this game as a must win before the season. I have not changed my mind.