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Soccer fields seniors on Vidas Fields for the final time | The Triangle
Men's Soccer

Soccer fields seniors on Vidas Fields for the final time

From left to right, Griffin Mallas (No. 20), Francisco Rodrigues da Palma (No. 10) and Strick Newsom (No. 17) were honored minutes before kick off took place.(Photograph courtesy of Greg Carroccio/Sideline Photos)

With a spot in the CAA soccer championship tournament on the line, the Drexel University men’s soccer team had to be sure to bring their best effort to the pitch at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. UNCW sat comfortably atop the CAA league table prior to facing the Dragons Oct. 26. With only one league loss on their record, the Seahawks presented an almost insurmountable challenge for Drexel, who came into the contest sixth in the CAA.

Climbing out of a hole into which they dug themselves in earlier matches matches has been the fate of Drexel all too often this season, and the Dragons could not prevent that unfortunate habit from occurring at Wilmington. The Seahawks’ quick passing game cut through the Drexel back line with ease, and within 10 minutes, the Dragons found themselves not only depleted, but down a goal. Sophomore midfielder Joey Martini, deciding to go on a solo run, made his way down the wing unopposed and finished with an equalizing shot. Martini’s second goal of the season put Drexel’s shot at the postseason back on track.  

Having been unable to tally a goal for the past two games, getting on the scoreboard against a team that had settled nicely into its position as the conference’s top-dog was visibly uplifting for Drexel. The Dragons have seen themselves let their guard down after scoring, a common phenomenon in soccer, and their relaxation after Martini’s efforts cost them dearly. It took only five minutes for the Seahawks to make a breakthrough once more and proceeded to freeze the game after a third goal broke Drexel’s spirit. Despite the loss, the University of Delaware’s 5-0 collapse against Hofstra University keeps Drexel in contention for a postseason berth.  

Fortune smiled at Drexel after their recent dark period when the Dragons bid a bittersweet farewell to their senior leaders on their final day at Vidas Fields. The families of Griffin Mallas, Strick Newsom and Francisco Rodrigues da Palma came together to celebrate the longtime stalwarts before facing the Lafayette College Leopards. Freshman forward Yassine Elkahloun found the net before the 20th minute, connecting with a cross from sophomore forward Chris Donovan. Though Lafayette evened the score shortly into the second half, junior forward Laolu Daranijo intercepted a bad pass from a Lafayette back. Before the Leopards could react, Daranijo found Donovan unmarked in the goalkeeper’s box and sent a low ball in for a tap in. 

For Drexel’s women’s soccer team, Senior Day was much less celebratory, as the Northeastern University Huskies arrived at Vidas with a visceral feeling of anger directed at their CAA rivals. The Dragons could not keep goals from raining down on them, and the Huskies left Philadelphia with five goals in their back pocket. Hoping to immediately improve after three consecutive losses, Drexel headed down to Harrisonburg, VA to close out their CAA fixtures for the season. Though the Dragons were already well out of a chance at the postseason, they came to James Madison University with every intention of pulling out a win. This again proved to be a fallacy, as a 3-0 defeat was the only thing Drexel was capable of producing. 

Men’s soccer will have to force at least a draw against Delaware Nov. 2 in order to make an appearance in the CAA finals for the first time since 2013. The women have nothing to look forward to bar the season’s final game against the Princeton University Tigers Oct. 30.