Colgate - Three And A Half Star Recruiting Class - The Raiders have earned a spot in the four team Patriot League Tournament seven out of the past eight seasons and won the League title three out of the past six years (2007, 2008, 2011). As a result a spot in the Patriot League Tournament field is an expectation and a conference championship a realistic goal.
Last year the Raiders fell short of their goal of winning back to back Patriot League titles when they were defeated by Lafayette 1-0 in the semi-finals of the Patriot League Tournament. Lafayette subsequently topped American 2-0 to win the Patriot League Championship and the League's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Erik Ronning, who was a four-year starter and team captain as a player at Colgate back in the day, will enter his ninth season as the head coach of the program in 2013 with a solid group of returning players including midfielder Jack Randazzo who missed almost all of the 2012 season due to injury and forward Scott Brown who missed the entire season after suffering a broken leg in preseason. The Raiders will also have the benefit of what looks to be a very promising eight member recruiting class. Ronning stated, "This is by far the best class we have brought into Colgate during my tenure." He added, "This is a special group who I know will help Colgate soccer achieve great success in the Patriot League and beyond."
For the second consecutive year, Ronning must replace the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year due to graduation. Forward Steven Miller, who netted twelve goals his senior season, earned the award in 2011 followed by midfielder Mike Reidy in 2012 who found the back of the net seven times his senior campaign. The reloading Raiders also lose midfielder Mike Garzi (3g, 2) and defender Wade Martin (0g, 1a) who were 2012 All-Patriot League Second Team selections, in addition to forward Shane Conlin (2g, 3a, defender Patrick Letourneau (2g, 1a) and goalkeeper Grant Reed.
Last year Colgate scored a total of twenty-one goals. Fourteen of those goals were scored by players who have graduated. That means that others need to emerge to fill the void and perhaps increase productivity on the offensive side of the ball.
The likely candidates to provide offensive firepower in 2012 are a now healthy senior Scott Brown, junior Tanner Schilling (1g, 0a) and sophomore Tyler Forbes (3g, 0a). Newcomers Geinda Smith, Colin O'Neill, Ethan Kutler, and Zach Pagani should also compete for playing time and could help fill the void that exists in offensive productivity.
The return of senior Jack Randazzo who was a starting outside back on the 2011 Patriot League Championship team is a big plus for the midfield. Randazzo is the type of player who has the ability to elevate the level of play of his teammates. Look for him to play a key role in setting the pace for the Raiders in 2013. Big things are also expected from senior Nick Arpey (0g, 2a) who has two years of starting experience under his belt. Junior Rex Messing and sophomores Dan Matthews, Ryan Groffie (1g, 0a), Nick Rizzo and Cameron McCaslin are among other returning midfielders who will seek to play a greater role in the midfield in 2013.
Last year the Raiders allowed their opponents to put the ball in the back of the net a total of thirty times. Historically from a statistical perspective Colgate has not been one of the more productive teams on the offensive side of the ball but their stats have always been impressive from a defensive perspective. Thirty goals is more than the Raiders have allowed in a long time. To put that in perspective the 2007 championship team scored nineteen and allowed eighteen,the 2008 championship team scored twenty-eight and allowed sixteen and the 2011 championship squad scored twenty-six and allowed opponents to put twenty in the back of the net. That means the opportunity for improvement exists on the defensive side of the ball heading into the 2013 season.
Junior center back Evan Heroux (2g, 0a) who was a 2012 All-Patriot League First Team member and senior left back Barrett Metzger (0g, 2a) who has been a starter for the past two seasons return to provide a solid nucleus upon which to build. Junior Frankie Bergonzi who appeared in ten contests last year with four starts and junior Chris Campbell who saw action in seven games last year will vie for a greater role in the backline in 2013.
Junior Liam Stapleton, a 2012 All-Patriot League Second Team selection, returns in goal. He appeared in fifteen matches last year and recorded a 1.19 goals against average and one shutout. Senior Christian Quinttus who played in three matches last year also returns between the pipes. Incoming freshman Ricky Brown who played club with West Coast FC will likely push for playing time in goal.
Colgate will be a different team in 2013 than they were in 2012 and 2011 because they will not have one dominant player like they did in 2011 with Steven Miller (12g, 1a) and Mike Reidy (7g, 2a) in 2012. They will however have several of the Patriot League's better players on their roster. The fact that the Raiders won only a total of five contests last year means that Coach Ronning has his work cut out for him heading into the 2013 season.
Colgate will be in the hunt for the Patriot League title in 2013 but it will not be easy. The addition of Boston University from the America East and Loyola University Maryland from the MAAC in 2013 will make the League even more competitive. The likelihood that any of the teams will run the table in league play is slim to none and the conference tournament should be extremely competitive.
The Raiders clearly have unanswered questions on both sides of the ball that must be addressed. Critical success factors in 2013 include the ability of the seniors to provide the leadership needed for the team to gel, the returning players must up their level of play, and the team will likely need some of the unproven newcomers to make an immediate contribution.
Ricky Brown - Goalkeeper - Laguna Hills, California - Lugina Hills High School - Played club with West Coast FC. Golden Glove winner at the USYSA National Championships.
Ethan Kutler - Midfielder -Lansing, New York - Lansing HIgh School - Plays in the USSF Development Academy with Revolution Empire Academy. 2011 New York All-State.
Nick Le - Midfielder -DeWitt, Michigan - DeWitt High School - Plays in the USSF Development Academy with the Crew Soccer Academy Wolves. All-Conference. All-District and All-Region selection.
Colin O'Neill -Midfielder - Yardley, Pennsylvania - Holy Ghost Prep High School - Plays in the USSF Developmental Academy with FC Delco. NSCAA Regional All-American. Pennsylvania All-State.
Zach Pagani - Forward - Ann Arbor, Michigan - Ann Arbor Pioneer High School - Plays in the USSF Development Academy with FC Freiburg Vardar. All-Conference selection.
Geinda Smith - Forward - Blacksburg, Virginia - Blacksburg High School - Plays club soccer with AC Bethesda. First Team River Ridge All-District 2011 and 2012. Virginia and Region I ODP team.
Zach Tamen - Defender - Washington, D.C. - Maret School - Plays Club Soccer with AC Bethesda in the USYSA National League. All-MAC and All-Met.
Charlie Vallee - Midfielder -South Burlington, Vermont -Taft School - Plays club soccer for Nordic Soccer Club. Vermont All-State in 2009 and 2010. NEPSSA All-Star in 2011 and 2012.