There’s a notable difference between good and great teams. Great teams win the games they’re “supposed” to win.
The Drexel University men’s lacrosse team might be a good team this year — they’ve shown flashes of it — but they certainly aren’t a great team. Last year’s team was great; they gritted out important wins and beat the teams that they “should” have.
This year, that isn’t quite the case. This was especially apparent April 18 when the team fell to a University of Massachusetts team that was just 3-8 on the year heading into the contest.
The Dragons were rolling coming in and appeared to be gaining momentum heading into the Colonial Athletic Association Championships Tournament. They were 6-2 in their last eight outings and riding a two-game winning streak. UMass, on the other hand, was on a three-game losing streak, including a 15-8 beatdown at the hands of the University of Hartford.
The Dragons “should” have been able to handle their business in a game against a flailing conference opponent. Last year’s team probably would have done just that.
The game started out on shaky footing for the traveling Dragons, as they let up two quick goals and fell into a hole early.
Ryan Belka fired back, netting two markers of his own to tie the game up at 2-2. But UMass ended the quarter as they started it, with two quick goals, and Drexel went into the second quarter trailing, 4-2.
The second quarter was fairly uneventful, with the teams exchanging goals midway through to keep the Drexel deficit at two heading into halftime.
Out of the locker room for the second half, the Dragons seemed a little more poised. They managed to net an early goal courtesy of a Mason Pynn assist to Cole Shafer. Their defense held up for a while, until UMass once again went on a two-goal run to extend the lead to 7-4.
The Dragons once again played from behind, and did it well, scoring three straight to tie the game at seven, before things simply fell apart. They appeared to have the momentum on their side, but UMass wasn’t fazed by the Dragons’ run. Spanning about 10 minutes of playtime, UMass scored five consecutive goals to put the Dragons just too far out of the game to comeback.
Despite two late goals by Robert Frazee and Belka, the Dragons fell short in the contest, 12-9. The game was really never in their control, as they spent the majority of the game fighting back from multiple goal deficits.
This just isn’t last year. The team lost too much firepower on offense to graduation and — understandably — hasn’t been able to replicate the production lost when players like Ben McIntosh and Nick Trizano left the team.
The sky isn’t falling for the Dragons, and they aren’t done yet. This loss doesn’t kill them completely, but it might just mean that the expectations for this Dragons team should be curtailed a bit. It seems that this year can be associated with the growth of young guys and some experimentation to find the best lineups.
Time will show how it shakes out, but it certainly would be unfortunate if this team falls early in the CAA Championships Tournament and robs the Drexel faithful of the chance to watch seniors like Belka and Nick Saputo dazzle in postseason play once again.
The Dragons are currently third in the conference, trailing only Towson University and Fairfield University. Towson has looked dominant this year, but is only a game up on the Dragons in conference record. The Tigers’ overall record is 9-4, and they will likely capture the first seed in the tournament.
The Dragons have a huge matchup against Towson looming, and a win could completely change their mindset and seeding, going into the tournament. A loss could push them out of the third spot, and going into the conference tournament on a losing streak should be avoided at all costs.
The Dragons finish the season against Towson April 25 at 1 p.m. on Vidas Field.