The Drexel Men’s lacrosse team is going dancing! The Dragons extended their seven-now-nine match winning streak last weekend at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships in Hempstead, New York.
The Dragons beat UMass 13-8 with five goals from freshman Sean Donnelly, four goals from senior Aidan Coll, two goals from graduate student Reid Bowering and one goal from junior Jack Mulcahy. The nine-straight goals from the Dragons in the second half took them from a four-goal deficit to a five-goal advantage. Just two days later, on Saturday, May 8, the Dragons were once again stunned with a 15-11 win against Hofstra and a place at the 2021 NCAA Lacrosse Championships secured. Bowering (named Most Outstanding Player) scored five goals, Coll scored three, Mulcahy scored two and freshman Luke Tomak also scored two goals. The CAA Championship win marked the second in the program’s history, with both titles notably coming under head coach Brian Voelker’s lead.
The Triangle spoke to junior goalie Paul Macrina about the successful CAA’s, the team’s preparation, and how they feel going into the NCAA’s.
The Triangle: How has the preparation been this season?
Paul Macrina: Preparation has been different this year, with Covid delaying our season and our fall being more individual versus team-oriented. It forced us to do a lot of work on our own, and I think that caused us to work harder, knowing that we had to push each other even though we weren’t together as a team. Nobody wanted to let the other guys down, which helped us provide better results in practice and on the field with the increasing competition as everyone got better on their own. Once we got practices started, preparation differed from years past because we were no longer focused on stick skills and working out the kinks of the summer; it was more focused on preparing for the teams we are about to play and the new things we were implementing.
TT: How has the season been for you guys? Have there been any particularly tough games?
Macrina: The season went just about as we had expected. The locker room has a certain energy that is very apparent every single day. From seniors that start to freshmen that don’t play, everyone has bought in, and everyone believes that we can truly do something special here, which we have. The CAA is a phenomenal conference with a lot of very tough teams. We knew that there was going to be a challenge with each team we played, and we weren’t going to take anyone lightly. Obviously, our two losses to Delaware and UMass were our toughest games because it showed where we had lapses in our execution. Thankfully we played both those teams again and won. It definitely shows a lot of growth not only from our coaching staff with how we changed our game plan, but it also shows resiliency among our team knowing what we’re capable of beating anyone.
TT: How did it feel to win the title? Is this something you have been working towards as a team?
Macrina: I’m honestly still struggling to put how it feels in words. There’s something extremely special about making history with your best friends, it is very hard to put into words because it is everything we have worked for our entire lives. The last time we went to CAA championship, Towson beat us and we had to watch them celebrate and receive the trophy. That feeling of heartbreak stuck with all of us, and I think now that we have won, it’s an overwhelming sense of pride knowing that we worked to be in their position that year and not where we were watching someone else celebrate.
When we came in as freshman, the team goal was always to win the CAA championship. At the beginning of each season, we set a list of goals we want to achieve as a team, and a CAA championship is always on that list. On top of that, we usually meet at the end of each season to go over what goals we missed and how we can achieve those for next year. So yes, this is definitely something we’ve been looking forward to and a standard we plan to set … for years to come.
TT: How do you feel going into the NCAA’s? Are you confident?
Macrina: Growing up, it’s every kid’s dream to make it to the NCAA tournament, and now we’re about to fly out to Denver and see that dream come true. Naturally, many of us go back-and-forth in the locker room talking about the win, we are all absolutely fired up to be here. Being the second team in Drexel lacrosse history to ever go to the tournament is an extremely fulfilling feeling because we know how much hard work the guys in years past put into this program in order for us to have this opportunity. Knowing we were able to capitalize on that opportunity is our way of showing that we acknowledge and appreciate the road they paved for us to be here. We are extremely confident in our ability as a team, and we are extremely confident that the coaches have put us in the right positions to be successful. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and the sense of being underappreciated and under-respected has given us a lot more confidence as a team.
TT: What preparations are you currently doing for the tournament, apart from taking some rest after the win?
Macrina: The biggest preparation is to keep our emotions in check until the game. It’s going to be extremely difficult to do so because this is a new experience for every guy on the roster, and it is obviously very exciting. If you allow yourself to express all that excitement too early, you could get burnt out when you need those emotions the most at game time. Other than that, playing at higher altitude will definitely be different and something we have taken into account. On top of that, we know that Notre Dame is probably the best team we have faced all year, so there’s not a lot of film and scouting to mentally prepare us for this moment. Our coaches and training staff have emphasized taking care of our bodies. We also are constantly talking about taking in this moment. If you allow yourself to get too focused on the game itself too early, … you can miss everything else going on around you. Flying out Wednesday and spending a few days in Denver before the game allows us to take in this experience as it is potentially a once in a lifetime event. We enjoy being around each other for an extended season making history for Drexel.
The Dragons will be playing the first round of the NCAA’s on Saturday, May 15 at 5 p.m. in Denver, Colorado against Notre Dame. We wish both the men’s and women’s teams (who will both be competing at the NCAA’s) the best of luck. Go Dragons!