As part of a city that is home to some of the elite sports franchises in the country, it comes as a surprise to no one that Drexel University boasts an equally competitive Division 1 athletic programs at the collegiate level. Equipped with a dedicated fanbase to boot, the Drexel Dragons provide the student body with some of the best entertainment they are likely to find on campus.
More than 250 activities and events have been meticulously planned for the 2019 edition of Drexel’s Welcome Week. Numerous Drexel teams will be making their season debuts over the course of the whirlwind 10 days. Each of the squads have kept at their training throughout the duration of the summer, and will be ready to show off their hard work at home in front of what are sure to be spirited crowds. All new students are encouraged to attend at least one game during the week, as the atmosphere generated is not one to be missed.
Some of the headlining events of welcome week include both the men’s and women’s soccer games held at Vidas Field. It’s hard to get away from the soccer culture at Drexel, and it’s easy to be swept up in the frenzy once one enters the Vidas compound. Women’s soccer has already kicked off Drexel’s 2019 campaign at home in a close loss to Saint Joseph’s University August 22. The squad is led by a small senior class of five, including goalkeeper Libby Baeza. Baeza was the sole Drexel player listed on the Colonial Athletic Association preseason squad, having been announced the league’s top keeper.
The other senior leaders are midfielders Josie Schultz, Ali Shick, Maria Garofolo, and Baeza’s twin sister Emily, the latter being responsible for patrolling the team’s backline. The junior class is the largest on the team, contributing nine of the 29 players on the roster. Many are regular starters, such as midfielder Joanna Seca and defender Maggie Daeche, who will serve as tri-captains of the squad with Baeza. Midfielder Gwen Godyn and forward Raenah Campbell have been gamechangers for the Dragons since their arrival in University City, and will look to continue impressing as standouts.
In reserve for the upperclasswomen will be midfielders Melissa Lyon, Abby Corrato, and Hannah Klevins, along with defenders Shannon Riordan and Shae Tomlinson. The group will combine for great minutes off of the bench, each having flashes of brilliance in their sophomore outings. This year’s sophomore class is brimming with talent, and the second years will be in fierce competition among themselves for playing time. The returnees are attacking mids Lauren Currey, Natalie Pantalone, and Morgan Rees. Rory Klingensmith, Caroline Thompson and Morayo Adenegan will help in holding up the back as deep-lying defensive midfielders. Miyuki Schoyen will begin her career in goal after picking up an injury her freshman year.
Drexel is currently projected to finish fifth in the conference, due to the increasingly consummate annual additions to the roster, and the latest class of freshmen is no different. The newest forwards to watch for are Isabel Kuzy, Annalena O’Reilly and Kailey Horton. Additionally, Gabrielle Perotto will provide excellent coverage in the central midfield, while the defense will be solidified by Lily Dunbar, Emma Goodrow and Kylie Kutz, who are able to transition into a variety of positions on their side of the park. The class is rounded out by Grace Gordon, who will serve as a backup goaltender.
The Dragons will finally be allowed to partake in the festivities of Welcome Week Sept. 19, when their matchup against Seton Hall University will be in the spotlight for all the newest members of the blue and gold sea. The two squads haven’t faced each recently enough for either the coaches or players to know what they will be going up against. Nonetheless, a Welcome Week game rarely disappoints, and Drexel appear to be heavy favorites based on home advantage alone.
Men’s soccer has yet to begin its fall crusade, but is set to appear under the lights at Binghamton University Aug.30. The Bearcats served as the season opener for Drexel in 2018 as well, in a chippy affair that ultimately went the way of the Dragons 3-2. Current senior Kwesi Allen secured that victory by bagging two goals, and he will be counted on to provide many more finishes in his final year. The other scorer in that game was defender Griffin Mallas, the only graduate student on the squad. Mallas has much experience under his belt, which the relatively young squad will benefit from.
The other senior year leaders this year are attacking midfielder Francisco Rodrigues da Palma and defender Strick Newsom, while seven juniors make up the remaining upperclassmen. Stalwarts of defense that season were Anthony Amore and Rafael Mariano. Chris Caroll, Patrick Murphy and Adam Nork did well to support each other at midfield, while the offensive firepower was boosted by Laolu Daranijo. Goalkeeper Cameron Sanders saw action in the Philadelphia Soccer Six championship game against Saint Joseph’s, and is ready to appear in more high caliber games when called on.
The sophomore class helped raise the standard of play at Drexel last year, with several names on the roster being attached to some of the elite developmental academies in the country. Bennett Detweiler, Michael McCarthy and Caleb Wertz found themselves coming to the aid of Drexel’s defensive line multiple times in the season. David Rylander, Joey Martini, Kyle Tucker and Harrison Coron were able to influence the game in the upper midfield in a number of dire situations.
Chris Donovan and Michael Campbell alternated at striker in their first year. Donovan, a Pennsylvania 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year, was awarded CAA All-Rookie honors, quickly establishing himself as one of the premier collegiate talents in the area.
The latest faces to grace Vidas Field will be some of the most promising up and coming talents from the class of 2019. The large incoming class boasts Max Thesing, Valtteri Hiilloskorpi and Colin Davis as defensemen. The midfield will be populated by Mark Cantor and Elliott Swigert, and the contributors on offense are Yassine Elkahloun, Philip Burckhardt and Michael McKeown. Stephen Kopsachilis has been a member of the soccer program at Drexel for two years already, but will spend this year of his eligibility as a redshirt freshman. The young goaltender went in between the posts for the first time last season, and went on to become the first choice keeper for the season.
Sept. 1 will see the eager Drexel squad make their first appearance at Vidas this year. Supporters of the Dragons in the area can prepare for what is expected to be an exciting template of what Drexel teams are hoping to bring to their competition in the coming months. Rutgers University will serve as the challenge for the Dragons. The two squads had met in 2018, with Drexel churning out a 3-2 routing of the Scarlet Knights.
George Mason University and The College of William & Mary are slated to clash with Drexel at Vidas Fields Sept. 17 and Sept. 21 respectively. Both the players and the fans are expected to bring the highest of energy on the occasion.