With the help of leading scorer junior midfielder Amanda Fleischut, the Drexel field hockey team is now 7-3 through 10 games, the same record they had through 10 games last year.
What’s the difference between this year and last year? They no longer have their all-time leading scorer on the team. Christina Mastropaolo may have graduated but she has left a lasting impression on the team she left behind.
Head coach Denise Zelenak sees the potential this young team has to continue their strong play as the season goes on.
“We are a very good team, with the potential to be a great team.” Zelenak said. “The [Colonial Athletic Association] is really strong this year, and our goal is to step up to the challenge and get our team to Championships.”
Sept. 23 marked the beginning of conference play for the Dragons, starting with a visit to James Madison University. The importance of conference play is evident in the words of Zelenak.
“Conference games are our main focus,” she said. “It is a great motivator to know that the CAA Champions get an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.”
The Dragons got on the board first when Fleischut scored from the top of the circle giving Drexel the 1-0 lead. Drexel scored again later in the half when freshman midfielder Alexandra Atiyeh deflected a pass from Fleischut to put the Dragons up 2-0. JMU came back and stopped the bleeding when they scored on a penalty corner to bring them within one goal at the end of the first half.
The second half would prove to be more challenging for Drexel, as they allowed two unanswered goals to start the half — they trailed 3-2. With six minutes remaining in the game, freshman Meghan Plank scored off a rebound to tie the game.
After two overtime periods, the game remained tied. Senior fullback Sofia Sanguinetti, sophomore fullback Kristen Focht, freshman forward Meghan Plank and senior forward Ashley Santee all scored on their penalty corner attempts to give the Dragons the 4-3 win. Atiyeh and Plank both scored their first collegiate goals in the comeback win.
“The win was a great accomplishment for our squad,” Zelenak said. “We tied the game in the second half, played through two overtimes, and then dominated penalty strokes for the win. These types of games definitely bring players together.”
The Dragons didn’t fare as well against Virginia Commonwealth University. Drexel took the lead early, scoring two goals early in the first half. VCU scored a goal on a penalty corner to bring them within one at the end of the first half.
Early in the second half, VCU would score to tie the game. The Rams’ Kelsey Scherrer scored the go-ahead goal off her own rebound, then scored a second goal in the final minutes of the game to secure the 4-2 victory for VCU.
“The VCU loss brought us back to reality,” Zelenak said. “It reinforced that on any given day, any team can win.”
Fleischut now has 16 points — seven goals and two assists — on the season and is the Dragons leading scorer. She has also taken 52 shots on the season, which is 36 more than the next closest shot total on the team.
Drexel will return home for the next five games, three of which are conference matches. They will play Towson Sept. 30 and the No. 13 California-Berkeley Oct. 2.
Zelenak is up for the challenge of facing the No. 13 team in the nation.
“The team is excited for the challenge of having another CAA team to play, as well as, 13th ranked Cal,” Zelenik said. “The goal is to play our best game regardless of the opponent.”