When fans hear about a rivalry concerning Lehigh football, they tend to automatically think of Lehigh Valley neighbor Lafayette College. However, the team that is sometimes overlooked is the Colgate University Raiders.
With Yankee Stadium in the distance, Lehigh’s team will be motivated to beat Lafayette next week, but Saturday’s game against Colgate is not to be taken lightly.
Last year, the Hawks knocked Colgate out of contention for the title, and two years ago, Lehigh watched Colgate celebrate the Patriot League Championship on its home field. With the recent history of both teams, Saturday’s game has the potential to be a hard-fought match up.
The game will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Goodman Stadium. The Mountain Hawks come into the game after a tough 27-20 loss to Patriot League opponent College of the Holy Cross, which left the team with a disappointing 2-7 record. Colgate is also coming off a close loss to Lafayette, leaving it with a 4-6 record.
Although the Mountain Hawks have struggled to win games this season, sophomore quarterback Nick Shafnisky wants to look beyond the results. Shafnisky is determined to keep the team motivated.
“I just keep telling the guys that besides Fordham and New Hampshire, we should’ve won every single game,” Shafnisky said. “It’s not like we’re simply just not better than the other teams or they’re just outright destroying us. We should have only two losses right now, but instead, it’s two wins.”
Even though a championship is out of reach for the Hawks, the fact has not stopped the team from working hard as it gears up for Saturday’s match up. Junior offensive lineman Matt Ford believes the team is prepared and confident to win out these last two games.
“Throughout the entire season, our preparation has not changed,” Ford said. “We have gone out every week and kept the energy and excitement up no matter what our record was.”
Ford also stressed that every week the team prepares for its next opponent, it is certain that it can win the game.
Saturday’s game is not only the last home game of the season, but it is also the last game most of the team’s seniors will play in Goodman Stadium.
“I’m not ready to walk away from this game,” senior wide receiver Derek Gaul said. “I’ve been playing since I was 8 years old, and I’m going to make sure I do everything in my power to go out with a win.”
Gaul discussed how watching film will be critical for the team’s success because it will help pick up tendencies and expose gaps in the Colgate defense. The Hawks outnumber the Raiders by almost 100 yards in total offense and have notched about seven more points per game.
Starting senior running back Rich Sodeke knows the importance of motivating his teammates and will do everything in his power to help his team win.
“One can only talk so much,” Sodeke said. “At a point, you have to be willing to step up and make plays not only in games, but in practice.”
Sodeke also said that good practices usually correlate to good performances on Saturday. He said that each member of the team must elevate his performance in practice first. Shafnisky echoed his teammate.
“My expectation is for every guy to still give whatever it takes to finish out this year,” Shafnisky said. “(Especially) the seniors who have given everything to this team, who won’t be able to play the game they love for the rest of their lives.”