Ward, Pontrello Help No. 1 Loyola Escape No. 19 Colgate

HAMILTON – Saturday's 10-8 loss to No. 1-ranked Loyola causes Colgate a slight slip in the Patriot League standings, although likely not so much in the national polls.

But the 17th-ranked Raiders still hold the cards if they want to land a second-place Patriot League finish and first-round bye in the postseason tournament.

That event likely will take place at Loyola after the Greyhounds held on Saturday to improve to 9-1 overall and 5-0 in conference play. Colgate drops to 7-3 and 3-2, which settles the Raiders into fourth place with three games remaining.

Two of those games are against the teams directly above Colgate, beginning next Saturday at Lehigh (4-2) in a 2:00 p.m. start. The Raiders also finish the season at home April 18 against Army (4-1) after a date with Holy Cross (0-5) April 12.

“There are no moral victories, obviously, but this shows we can play with anyone in the country,” said Matt Clarkson, who scored three goals against Loyola. “We have a huge one Saturday against Lehigh. If we win these next three, we can lock up that No. 2 seed and that's what is most important.”

The first- and second-place teams earn opening-round byes to the Patriot League Tournament semifinals. Seeds 3-6 play at home sites April 22, with the semifinals and final set for the regular season champion's home field April 25 and 27.

Saturday against Loyola, Colgate traded punches with the nation's top-ranked team until a four-goal outburst in the third quarter tilted the game toward the Greyhounds. Colgate drew within one goal on a couple of occasions thanks in part to Clarkson and Tyler Rigo, who scored his first two collegiate goals.

“There are no moral victories in this program,” Raiders head coach Mike Murphy said. “I'm very proud of my team's effort, but if you play good teams you've got to play a full 60 (minutes). There was a stretch there where we gave up a four-goal run and we didn't answer very well. We had a little trouble in the clearing game, and that was a recipe for the L.

“If we're going to be a successful team, we can't be a one-man band. To see that midfield really get going with Mattie getting the three goals and Tyler getting two off his line is good for us. That's good moving forward.”

Clarkson's scoring outburst resulted in his second career hat trick and the first since he scored five in the 2013 season opener at Bryant. The junior midfielder scored in the second, third and fourth quarters and is now tied for third on the team with 17 points. He is fifth with nine goals.

“It's bittersweet when you come up short like that,” Clarkson said. “We knew they weren't going to slide to us at the top so we practiced dodging deep all week. I was lucky enough to get three of them.”

Rigo scored his goals midway in the second to make it 3-3 and at the end of the third to pull Colgate within 8-7.

“You never complain about a couple of goals, but not getting the W today took away from that a little bit,” Rigo said. “I was happy to get on the board and contribute to the team as much as I can.”

The sophomore says games like today, while disappointing, prove that the Raiders are moving in the right direction.

“There are some things we've got to touch up, but it definitely will bring us some momentum heading into next week when we take on Lehigh. And we could still see these guys again in the tournament, which is all you can ask for.”

Cameron Williams also scored two goals for the first time in his career. The sophomore tied the game 1-1 late in the first period, and then struck again to start the third and hand Colgate its only lead of the game at 5-4.

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