(Photo Courtesy of Colgate Athletics)
From 2006-2015, the Colgate Raiders had one of their decades in program history. Under Jim Nagle and later Mike Murphy, the Raiders made three conference and NCAA Tournament appearances (2008, 2012, 2015). In that time, Colgate also produced their first and only Tewarraton Award winner, Peter Baum, and only had one winning season.
But since 2015, the Raiders haven’t had a single winning season and haven’t appeared in the postseason since. They went a combined 16-27 in the final three years of the Mike Murphy era and since Matt Karweck took over the reigns in Hamilton ahead of the 2019 season, things haven’t seemed to get much better, at least on the surface.
Colgate went 4-9 in 2019, which included an upset win on the road against Syracuse, and prior to the 2020 season being cut short due to the Coronavirus outbreak had an 0-6 record. However, the Raiders had the 11th best strength of schedule this past season, facing eventual top-5 teams in North Carolina, Syracuse, and Princeton consecutively to start the season.
And while things haven’t turned out too well in the win column during Karweck’s reign yet, the Raiders have improved in multiple areas. At the time the 2020 season was cancelled, they were on track to surpass their goals per game, assist per game, and shooting percentage from the 2019 season. The same can be said for power play opportunities and multiples areas on the defensive end of the field.
Coming into the 2021 season, there is certainly an opportunity for things to continue to go up under Karweck. We could even see a third-year jump for the Raiders. But things will certainly look different, as Colgate loses two of their top three scorers in Griffin Bowie and Nicky Petkevich to graduation. The two will take their talents to Maryland and Georgetown, respectively, as fifth-year seniors. The Raiders will also lose one of their starting defensmen in John Donohue.
The offensive end is where the Raiders are hit the most by graduation. The past few seasons they found success by putting the ball in the sticks of their playmakers, Bowie and Petkevich. Being able to put the ball in either of those two’s sticks consistently was a blessing, even if the impact those two had on that end of the field wasn’t able to directly translate into more wins.
While they don’t have those two star-studded attackmen, the cupboards aren’t bare. Colgate’s top offensive returner is junior attackman Brian Minicus. As a full-time starter for the first time this past season, he recorded 19 points (7G/12A), which included a career high six-point outing against Princeton. They will also return starters in seniors Mike Hawkins (12G/5A) and James Caddigan (7G/5A).
Colgate has a very solid foundation on the offensive end. And it is fare to assume that the Raiders could continue to progress forward on that end in 2021, despite losing two of their top impact players. However, there are still questions surrounding who will be “The Guy” and how smoothly things will operate right out of the gate. But nonetheless, there are certainly plenty of tools to work with.
Defensively, it doesn’t appear that Raiders’ defensive coordinator Chris Cooper will have to make many adjustments in the lineup with only one full-time starter not returning. They return senior Sean Nelson (9GB/7CT), junior Will Sidari (11GB/1CT), and sophomore goalie Sean Collins (.427 SV%). Junior LSM Thor (Yes, you read that right) Adamec (14GB/6CT) will also be returning and should take another step forward in 2021 following a breakout 2020 campaign.
And while the Raiders bring back a heap of their starting personnel, as well as role players, on the back end, they will have to take a step in the right direction to have success in 2021. Prior to the 2020 season being cancelled, Colgate was near the bottom or last in many defensive statistical categories amongst their Patriot League foes.
They were last in the conference and second to last in DI in goals against average (18.33), second to last in caused turnovers per game (6.50). Also, they were 70th in DI in clearing percentage (.766).
For Colgate to flip the script and pull off a third-year jump, their defense will need to take a major step forward. They have the foundation for a top-tier offense, but don’t have the luxury to lean on a top flight faceoff man to solve all their defensive woes.