It would not be hyperbolic to say that the 2022 Drexel University women’s soccer team is in the midst of one of their best seasons in Drexel’s history. The Dragons have surged this year reaching the postseason for the first time since 2018 on the back of an explosive offense, and on Thursday the Dragons ensured that their historic season would continue.
Throughout the regular season, Drexel had proved their mettle, dominating the regular season en route to their number two seeding in the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs with their potent offense and solid defense, demonstrated by their superb +12-goal differential. The College of William and Mary, the number seven seed, did not separate themselves much, sneaking into the playoffs by just one point and only outscoring their opponents by two goals throughout the season. The Dragons were the better team on paper, and they certainly played like it. Throughout the game, Drexel forwards Casey Touey, a sophomore, Delaney Lappin, a junior, and Isabel Kuzy, a senior, were hustling to every ball in their vicinity, bulldozing the Tribe defense with their speed and physicality. On defense, senior defender Kylie Kutz also physically dominated the Tribe’s offense, stifling every opportunity that William and Mary tried to create through the flow of the game.
Through most of the first half, Drexel was dominant. From kickoff, the most dangerous scoring opportunities were from the Dragons. In the 10th minute, Touey was almost able to get on the receiving end of a cross and put it in the back of the net but the cross was just high.
The Dragons kept coming after this near miss, using their speed and physicality to outplay the Tribe. Their hard work created a penalty kick when William and Mary defender Addie Puskar’s only recourse to prevent a golden scoring opportunity for Drexel was to bring down Anna Salvucci, sophomore midfielder, in the box. It appeared like this would surely result in Drexel taking the lead as the clinical Annalena O’Reilly, a senior forward, stood over the ball, however, the shot was driven on the ground and right into William and Mary’s senior goalkeeper Zoe Doughty.
Drexel continued creating scoring opportunities for themselves, including one shot from very close proximity for Delaney Lappin, but The Tribe were able to bend but not break. Gradually throughout the first half, the center referee, David Breckner, began calling a much tighter game, a trend that was detrimental to the Dragons as it severely impaired players such as Kuzy and Kutz from exerting their physical advantage upon their opponents. This manifested itself when the referee Breckner called a foul on Kutz in the 42nd minute. Nicole Sellers, junior defender for William and Mary, whipped in a dangerous ball to the 18 yard box that freshman forward Ivey Crain was able to flick on to the graduate student forward, Cricket Basa, who was able to tap the ball into the back of the net. This shocking goal gave William and Mary an unexpected 1-0 lead at halftime.
Coming out of halftime, it was clear that the Dragons were determined to make a comeback. Within the first minute of the second half, Casey Touey nearly put away a goal on a breakaway. In the coming minutes, Drexel was all over the Tribe and appeared to be on the brink of breaking through. This finally happened in the 50th minute when Touey was able to get in on the William and Mary goal and take on multiple defenders, acting as a battering ram to get the ball inside the Tribe’s six-yard box. When William and Mary defender Nicole Sellers poked the ball away from Touey, Delaney Lappin was right there to clean up the mess, and she fired the ball into the vacant net. This goal was a special one for Lappin, not only because it tied this all-important game for the Dragons, but also because it was Lappin’s 11th goal of the season, a total which tied the Drexel single-season record.
With the game locked at one, both sides ratcheted up the intensity. William and Mary’s forwards in particular attempted to match the physical presence of Drexel’s defense. Breckner maintained control of the game by calling fouls when needed, but the energy on the field was palpable.
Lappin must have felt that the game was devoid of highlight worthy plays, because as the game reached the 60th minute she decided to make history in style. Gabrielle Perrotto, a junior midfielder, made a tremendous play to win a 50/50 ball and direct it towards Lappin. Lappin collected the ball, shed her defender, and fired in a shot from over 20 yards out. This goal was Lappin’s 12th score, giving her sole possession of first for the Drexel single-season goals record.
Drexel would have to preserve their two-to-one lead for the next 30 minutes, and, while William and Mary’s senior forward Jillian O’Toole fired a shot off the crossbar in the 72nd minute, the Dragons were able to shut down the Tribe for the remainder of the game.
With one win under their belt, the Dragons turn their focus towards Sunday, October 30th, when they will face Northeastern University in what should be a very compelling match. Northeastern are the third seeded team in the CAA playoffs and coming fresh off a two-to-one victory over Stony Brook University.
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