What happens when you add a great Drexel Dragons defense to a now rolling Drexel Dragons offense?
You get an even better team and a three-game win streak. The Drexel field hockey team found their offensive game at Buckley Field, beating both Rider University and Kent State University.
If there was ever a time to get excited about what the Dragons could do, it’s right now, because it seems as though the team has found a way to score while also playing their signature lockdown defense.
Drexel came into the game against Rider after defeating Temple University in overtime by just one goal. Spectators could see the urgency and competitive spirit that led the team against Temple was once again prevalent. Drexel made sure, however, that this game would not need any overtime heroics.
The first goal of the game came just 6:44 into the first half when Rachel Sumfest deflected the ball past Rider goalie Joelle Prettyman for her fourth goal of the year. Sumfest would almost immediately follow that effort by striking a shot wide left, just missing a chance to score another quick goal for the Dragons.
Just about five minutes later Drexel would strike again. Meghan Plank attempted a shot, but it was rejected by Prettyman. Seconds later Cailean Meredith was able to beat Prettyman for her first goal of the season off an assist from Jessica McCarthy. Just 12 minutes into the game, the Dragons had pulled to a 2-0 lead.
Drexel defense would continue to hold firm. On the ensuing drive, Rider attempted to regain some momentum as Megan Eppley attempted to score, but her shot was blocked. The Dragons would immediately go back down the field to try and stretch the game out further. Margaux Lourtie had another opportunity for the Dragons, but her shot went wide left.
The game went back and forth the rest of the first half. Rider made a push in the last seven minutes to try and get something going offensively, but the brick wall that is Jantien Gunter rejected Rider’s Kayln O’Brien’s attempt.
At the end of the first half, the Dragons had a 2-0 lead.
The second half of the game went almost exactly how the first half went. Just one minute into the second half, the Dragons’ Chloe Pachuilo scored her first goal of the season off an assist from Danielle Grassi to give Drexel a 3-0 lead. With the way the Drexel defense has been playing, the uphill battle Rider faced now became a climb up a mountain.
The game would end with the Dragons scoring their fourth goal of the game in the 68th minute off the stick of Sumfest, her second of the game and fifth of the season.
The Dragons rode the momentum of a two game win streak into the next game against a flailing Kent State team. They also seemed to have found some offense which would be important in their next game.
Kent State came into this game with a record of 2-6 while the Dragons held a 5-3 record. Despite the apparent advantage in their records, the Dragons still needed to be tough in this game in order to win especially since it was also alumni day and emotions were running high.
The first half was a shoot out, with both teams tallying three goals. The first of these goals came from Kent State’s Alison Harmatz. This came right after Drexel’s Gunter saved a shot but unfortunately, Harmatz was able to defect the rebound into the net.
This was the first goal that a team scored against Gunter in two games, so needless to say someone was going to get one past her sooner or later.
The pressure shifted fully to the Drexel offense. Both teams would go back and forth, with goalies from each team saving shots and keeping the game close. It wouldn’t be until the 20th minute of the first half when Drexel’s Mary Lynam would score the first goal of the game for the Dragons, her second of the season.
Kent State then responded with their second goal of the game coming from Hannah Faulkner. The score was 2-1 with about 12 minutes left in the first half and Gunter made sure to keep the game close as she would record a few more saves.
Her effort would not be lost on her offense as the Dragons found the back of Kent State’s net two more times before the half ended. McCarthy scored off a penalty corner in the 31st minute and Pachuilo scored with just 21 seconds remaining in the first half. The first half ended with Drexel on top of Kent State 3-2.
In the second half, Kent State came out of the gates with determination. Julia Hofmann would score off of a penalty corner in the first three minutes of the second half. Drexel would attempt to respond quickly; however, a shot by Christina Conrad went wide. The Dragons would end up buckling down on defense stopping Kent State, and holding them to just that one second half goal.
Pachuilo, McCarthy, and Jenna Knouse would combine to score three unanswered goals for the Dragons which would leave the score at 6-3 by the time the 70th minute struck.
This was the second straight game where the Dragons would be able to score more than three goals. If the Dragons offense can keep up what they are doing then the team will be a formidable opponent no matter who they play. With the level of defense intensity and skill this team has, all it needed was some offensive growth.
Head coach Denise Zelenak commented on her team’s growth and their expectations in the coming weeks.
“Even though we are pleased with our growth and performances so far, we know that we still have a lot of important games ahead of us. Our team has high expectations and so much potential, a winning combination. We will continue to play our best and embrace the challenges ahead,” she said.
Drexel will put their three game win streak and newly found offensive chemistry on the line against a very good 8-2 Penn State team at Buckley Field Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. This will be a big test for this Dragons team, but they have shown that they are up for the task.