Colgate 2016 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School - Colgate
Conference - Patriot League
Coach - Erik Ronning (12th Season)

Background - Colgate was 10-7-2 overall with a 7-2-0 mark in conference play in 2015. The seven conference wins was a program record. The Raiders won the regular season Patriot League title and earned the number one seed in the conference tournament. However their season came to an earlier than anticipated end when they were topped 2-0 by Lehigh in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament.

The Raiders have won the Patriot League regular season title a total of five times (1992, 1997, 2008, 2010 and 2015). The have won the Patriot League Tournament three times (2007, 2008 and 2011).

Erik Ronning, who was a a four year starter as a collegiate player at Colgate, became the head coach of the Raiders in 2005. He subsequently directed Colgate to the Patriot League Conference title in 2007 for the first time in ten years and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in forty-one years. Colgate also earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and 2011.

The Raiders have qualified for the Patriot League Tournament nine out of the eleven seasons that Ronning has been at the helm of the program.  

Forward Ethan Kutler was named the 2015 Patriot League Player of the Year. Ronning was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year. Kutler and defender Zach Tamen were named to the 2015 All-Patriot League First Team. Midfielders Colin O'Neill and Jared Stroud were named to the All-Patriot League Second Team. Defender Aram Ouligian and goalkeeper Ricky Brown were All-Patriot League Third Team selections.  

Offense - Colgate returns players who scored nineteen of the twenty-four goals they placed in the back of the net last year.

Forward Tyler Fordes who contributed a total of three goals in 2015 including two game-winners is the key loss due to graduation. Forbes, a team captain and four-year starter, will be missed.

Senior Ethan Kutler (9g, 6a) returns to power the Colgate attack up-top. Kutler has been a key ingredient and impact player in the Raider offense since arriving on campus as a freshman in 2013. Senior forward Zach Pagani, who missed all but the final three contests of the 2015 season due to injury, looks to be healthy and ready to play a prominent role in the attack in 2016. Pagani was a starter in 2013 and 2014.

Sophomore Ben Snider who saw action in five contests last year is among other returning forwards who seek to play a greater role in 2016. Sophomore transfer Freddy Johnson, who appeared in eighteen contest last year for the University of Connecticut, should add an additional dimension to the offense up-top.

Senior Colin O'Neill and juniors Jared Stroud (1g, 6a) and Troy Moo-Penn (2g, 0a) and sophomore Tim Oberg (0g, 1a) who were starters last year return to provide the Raiders with what should be a very solid group of midfielders. Junior Benji Geisler (1g, 0a) who stared nine games last year is among other returning midfielders who will vie for minutes in 2016. Freshmen Sebastian El-Abdellaoul from Austria is among the nine newcomers who should compete for playing time in the midfield or in the back.     

Defense - Last year a signnificany improved Raider defense held opponents to a total of nineteen goals.

Senior Zach Tamen (2g, 0a) who has been a starter for the past three seasons, junior Bruno Scodari (0g, 1a), and sophomore Aram Ouligan (3g, 2a) who had an impressive freshman season return to give Colgate an experienced backline.

Junior backs Karl Brown (1g, 0a) who started ten contests last year and Chase Pagani (0g, 1a) who appeared in sixteen games with six starts also look to be in the mix. Freshman Christian Clarke, an athletic and strong center back, is among the newcomers who should compete for minutes.

Senior goalkeeper Ricky Brown, who has been a starter for the past three seasons, returns to anchor the backline.  Brown gives the Raiders a talented, experienced, and composed presence between the pipes.  

Newcomers - Three and a Half Star Recruiting Class  

Coach Ronning stated, "I am thrilled to announce the addition of these high character scholar-athletes to the Colgate Men's Soccer Program. Not only will this group strengthen our team at every position, but also add a unique dimension to our program with players coming from all over the country and the world."

Sam Aheme - Defender - Bronxville, New York - Bronxville High School - Four-time All-League. Two Time All-State. Had seventy-five career goals in high school. Played for the New York Soccer Club.

Christian Clarke - Defender - Houston, Texas - Houston Christian High School - Two-time All-Southwest Preparatory Conference selection. Had twenty goals and seven assist during senior season in high school. Played for Houston Xpress.

Sebastian El Abdellaoui - Midfielder - Au, Vorarlberg, Austria - The Taft School - Member of the Vorarlberg Academy.

Fuki Goto - Defender - Allen, Texas - Allen High School - Played with Solar Chelsea Academy. U-16 Developmental Academy All-Star. Ranked by College Soccer News as the number seventy player in the class of 2016.

Jacob Harris - Goalkeeper - Brookline, Massachusetts - The Rivers School - Had twenty-five career shutouts in high school and a 1-10 career goals against average. Named All-Independent School League Honorable Mention. Bay State First Team All-Star.

Freddy Johnson - Forward - Vaestra Goetaland, Sweden - Lerams Gynasium in Leram, Sweden - Transfer from the University of Connecticut where he appeared in eighteen matches with fifteen starts. Netted one goal and two assists. Member of the swedish U-17 and U-19 National Teams.

Jerry Karalis - Midfielder -Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania - The Haverford School - Played for Lower Merion Magic. Had fifteen career goals and forty assists. All-Delco and All-Inter-Ac Teams.

Lucas Lezcano - Forward - Culver City, California - Culver City High School - Played for Santa Monica United. 2016 First-Team All-League Ocean League. Two-time Offensive Player of the Year.

Kentaro Morrison - Midfielder - Tokyo, Japan - St. Mary's International School - Played for Yokogawa Musashino FC. Had ten career goals and fifteen career assists.     

Prognosis for 2016 - Last year the Patriots were 3-5-2 in non-conference play. With the exception of a 2-0 loss to Syracuse, all of Colgate's non-conference losses in 2015 were by a magin of a single goal. Last year their only defeat against a conference opponent was their 2-0 loss to Lehigh in the Patriot League Tournament semi-finals.

A loss is a loss but the point is that this is a program that has the potential with a reasonable amount of improvement on both sides of the ball to have a special season in 2016.

Colgate's first six contests of the 2016 season are against non-conference opponents including tough matches against Loyola Marymount, Syracuse and Monmouth. A productive showing in those first six matches would be a very positive sign and would give the Raiders a lot of momentum heading into conference play.  

There are a lot of positives for Colgate heading into the 2016 season. Ten starters, including many who now have several years of experience, return from the 2015 team that won ten contests including a school record seven conference wins.

Senior Ethan Kutler, who was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, returns to give the Raiders a proven finisher up-top. Senior Colin O'Neill and junior Jared Stroud are among a very solid group of returning midfielders. O'Neill will not be outworked by anyone and will likely set the pace for the entire team.

Senior center back Zach Tamen, who has played a key role in the Colgate defense for the past three seasons, will anchor the backline. Tamen is a ball winner who may very well be the best at his position during the eleven seasons to date that Erik Ronning has been at the helm of the program. Senior goalkeeper Ricky Brown is a talented netmineder who is battle tested with the benefit of three starting seasons under his belt.

In 2013 and 2014 the Raiders were running uphill because they didn't have the combination of talent and experience needed to prevail. In 2015 the experience level increased significantly and with it the win total.

Colgate will enter the 2016 season with what appears to be more talent, experience and depth than they have ever had. They also look to have solid team chemistry and a very good work ethic. As a result chances are pretty good that they will build on the success the program enjoyed last year and again up their win total. Just how much simply comes down to the level of improvement on both sides of the ball. 

Critical success factors include a more balanced offense, consistency of play and the avoidance of lapses on the defensive side of the ball, and whether or not the 2016 team has the mental toughness required to play through adversity and persevere in the tough contests.  

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