Fall Snapshot: Colgate Raiders

(Photo Courtesy of Colgate Athletics)

Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.

Head Coach: Matt Karweck (Fifth season, 2019-Current)

Colgate 2022 Record: 4-9 (3-5 Patriot League)

Key Departures: Brian Minicus (A), Brendan Jordan (M), Marshall Terres (M),

Key Returners: Michael Minicus (A), Thomas Colucci (FO), Aidan Murnane (D), Danny Gayhardt (D), Matt LaCombe (G)

Transfer Additions: N/A

Going 4-9 overall and 3-5 in the Patriot League, Colgate had a losing season and missed the postseason for the seventh consecutive year. However, it should be recognized how they ended the season. The Raiders opened the month of April with a 7-6 loss against Harvard before falling to Army West Point by two (13-11) the next week. Its best win of the season would follow as the Raiders upset Lehigh 9-8 in overtime. They fell to Loyola 11-10 in OT the very next week before closing out the year with a 14-12 win at Holy Cross.

Colgate also fell to both High Point and Navy by one earlier in the season, giving them a total of four one-goal losses on the season (five one-goal games in all). Headlining the Raiders was the Minicus brothers, Brian and Matthew, who served as the team’s top two point-getters. As a sophomore, Matthew was one of multiple younger players, along with a pair of freshmen who started on defense.

Heading into the 2023 season, Colgate will be looking to replace quite a few pieces on offense. But what many will likely be paying especially close attention to with this squad is how well that young talent seen last season progresses and if this team can win those close games they failed to a year ago.

Burning Questions

Who Quarterbacks This Offense?

A full-time starter for each of the past seasons, Brian Minicus has been a focal point of this offense and its leading scorer each of last two years. He netted 36 goals and dished out 23 assists for 59 points last spring and proved to be the quarterback of this offense, touching the ball on nearly every possession. Minicus has graduated and will be wearing Hoyas across his chest as he plays a fifth-season of college lacrosse for Georgetown.

Minicus’ exit leaves Colgate searching for its next leader and primary playmaker at the attack spot. And the answer will come from a fairly younger group of returning attackmen. The younger Minicus, Michael, had a breakout sophomore campaign with 21 goals and five assists as the team’s second leading point-getter last spring. Jack Turner played in 11 games with nine starts as a freshman and tallied 13 points (12G/1A). Rory Connor (8G/2A) started each of the first four games before seeing what looked to be a promising freshman campaign cut short due to injury.

Colgate has a number of very capable playmakers who could very well step up and be the quarterback and leader of this offense at the attack spot in 2023, and with the amount of upside at the position, one should expect an answer to be had early on in the year. It’ll just have to be seen on the field.

Another Year, Another Climb For The Colgate Defense?

Perhaps, Colgate hasn’t progressed more on a year-to-year basis in many other areas than it has its overall defensive performance. Last season, the Raiders allowed 11.6 goals per game. That included holding four of its opponents to single digits on the scoreboard.

That 11.6 goals allowed per game is the least the Raiders have allowed since 2019 (11.1). Colgate allowed 18.3 goals per game during the shortened 2020 season and 13.1 during the 2021 campaign. The Raiders’ performance this past season pushed them back into the top half of DI in scoring defense. With as much as they return on that end, can the Raiders’ defense climb closer towards its production in 2018 and 2017 where they were allowing and average of just 10 and nine goals per game?

Colgate returns its top producing pole from a year ago in Aidan Murnane (22GB/17CT) as well as its starting goalie in Matt LaCombe (171 saves, 53.8%). Both were freshman last spring. Senior defensemen Donny Gayhardt (21GB/8CT) and Michael Lia (10GB/7CT) also return as leaders on the back end. LSM Will Rosenblatt (23GB/6CT) and SSDM Conner Brook (14GB/5CT) return as top performers at their respective positions.

Does The Man-Up Situation Improve?

During the 2022 campaign, Colgate was one of the worst man-up offenses in college lacrosse. Having gotten 37 such opportunities, the Raiders only cashed in on four of them a 10% man-up success rate. One of those four man-up goals ended up sealing victories as Rory Conner hit a go-ahead goal on a man-up situation late against Air Force. Brendan Jordan, Brian Minicus, and Adam Salvaggio all contributed the other three such scores.

Ranking second to last in DI in man-up offense last season, it is an area in which the Raiders will very much want to improve. And one where improvement could equal more wins this coming spring.

Potential Breakout Player

Rory Connor, Attack, Sophomore

Limited as a freshman due to injury, Connor showed a lot of promise during the action he did see last spring. He was especially good in his final two games of the season (Air Force, Boston U.), tallying six points in those two contests alone. He could be a major impact player for this squad assuming he’s 100% come February.

Freshman Class

With its 2022 recruiting efforts, the Colgate Raiders bring in a very solid freshman class. Last November, I wrote about the class, as it was at the time, as one of the top five ‘sneaky’ classes of the cycle. It is headlined in part by do-it-all midfielder Wiley Bryant (Bellevue, Wash.). He is rated as a four-star recruit by Inside Lacrosse.

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