Not one, not two, not three, not even four.
The Drexel Dragons field hockey team needed four periods and a shoot out Oct. 19 to beat the University of Richmond. The Dragons came into the game following a tough week, so it was important that they kept fighting to get the win in this match. Coming into this game Drexel posted a 7-6 record, while Richmond posted a 9-6 record. Although this was not a conference game, a loss in this game could have been detrimental, crushing the team’s spirit. The Dragons again showed their toughness overcoming back-to-back conference losses to win a long and tough game and bring up the confidence levels.
Drexel came to the field looking to score right away. Jessica McCarthy attempted a shot just two minutes into the game, but unfortunately it went wide left. Mary Lynam, just 50 seconds later took another shot, however, again it went wide. This was a theme in the first half, and really for the entire game. The Dragons had their opportunities to score, but unfortunately their shots could not find the back of the net. McCarthy took two more shots between the 11 and the 12:30 minute mark, but again each would miss the target.
Richmond began their own assault on Drexel’s defense late in the half, but they would also find it difficult to score. The Dragons played great defense, getting in the way of shots and forcing shots wide of the goal. When Richmond did shoot accurately on goal, the brick wall was there in the form of goalkeeper Jantien Gunter, blocking shots and keeping the Spiders off the board.
In the second half the Spiders continued their offensive push, trying to weave their way in and out of the Drexel defense. They found the back of the net just seven minutes into the second half as Samantha Ostoich scored the first goal of the game, giving Richmond a 1-0 lead. The Spiders continued to try to score again to put the game out of reach, but Gunter would make two key saves to keep the score at a reachable 1-0.
Needing to score quickly, the Dragons set up their offense and attacked the Spiders. McCarthy and Allyson Fuller both took shots attempting to tie the game, but Richmond’s goalkeeper, Kelley Wentling, made saves on both shots and kept score at 1-0. With just 10 minutes left, the Dragons needed a score in order to at least push the game into overtime. Drexel stayed composed and finally scored in the 63rd minute, evening up the score at 1-1. Idrienne Walker recorded her third goal of the season, but perhaps more importantly she tied up the game and gave the Dragons an opportunity to win. Drexel attempted a last-second shot right at the end of the second half to win the game, but Wentling made a clutch save. The game would have to be settled in overtime.
Overtime would be much of the same for the Dragons. In the entire third period, Drexel attempted three shots, all of which went wide right or wide left. Seeing as this had been a theme for the day, the Dragons were frustrated; they needed their shots to straighten out and find the back of the goal. The other theme for the night that was in the Dragon’s favor was the play of Gunter, who made a big save against the Spiders to prevent them from winning in the third period. The defenses of both teams would stop each other and would force another overtime period.
The fourth period continued to be fruitless. The Dragons and the Spiders both played tough defense and did not allow each other to gain an edge. Both goalies also made saves to keep the game going and to further frustrate both offenses. After 100 minutes of playing time had passed, it was time for a shootout to decide the winner.
The shootout went in the Dragons’ direction, where they scored on three of four opportunities. Christina Conrad, McCarthy and Rachel Sumfest converted on their opportunities while Gunter made stops on all but one shot from the Spiders.
The win against Richmond is huge because it gives Drexel momentum heading into four must-win conference games. The team displayed its toughness and character through grinding out 115 overall minutes of action to win. It also shows how determined this squad is, which is key in the upcoming matches.
A team can only win by playing as a team, but if we are going to single out one player, that player should be goalkeeper Gunter. She was awarded co-Colonial Athletic Association player of the week honors after her great performance against Richmond, where she recorded six saves.
Head coach Denise Zelenak commented on her goalies abilities, “Jan is an amazing athlete with exceptional goalkeeping skills. She is fast, dynamic and has her own style in goal. Jan is confident in her abilities, which creates trust in the defensive unit. A true competitor who embraces the challenge of game day.”
Coach Zelenak also noted that although Gunter is an exceptional talent, she also has exceptional teammates who step up on defense helping her to be as good as she is.
What it always comes down to is teamwork. If the Dragons can continue to play unselfish field hockey they will win each game left on the calendar. The Dragons are at their best when they play as coherent group and help one another.
They will be looking to test their teamwork on Oct.24 in a conference game against James Madison University. This will be a very emotional day because it is senior day, a day in which each senior will be recognized for their contributions to the team. There is no doubt the Dragons will be playing hard for each other, especially for the senior members of the team.