M. lacrosse tops UD, SJU on road | The Triangle

M. lacrosse tops UD, SJU on road

Freshman midfielder Nick Valentino rushes down field in the team’s season opener Feb. 16 versus Virginia. Valentino has notched three goals this season.
Freshman midfielder Nick Valentino rushes down field in the team’s season opener Feb. 16 versus Virginia. Valentino has notched three goals this season.

The Drexel University men’s lacrosse team traveled to Saint Joseph’s University March 25 and took down the Hawks 14-10 in the swirling snow before taking down the University of Delaware 9-7 four days later.

The Dragons came out hot, moved the ball well and got out to an early two-goal lead following goals by senior attacker Nick Trizano and senior midfielder Ben McIntosh. St. Joe’s responded on a man-up opportunity with a goal from Michael Rastivo and then added two more over the next five minutes to go up 3-2.

A minute later, a man-up opportunity for the Dragons allowed Trizano to notch his second goal of the game. Another goal by McIntosh near the end of the quarter gave the Dragons a 4-3 lead heading into the second period.

In the second, the Dragons unleashed the full potential of their offense.

In certain games, like their March 4 game against St. John’s University, the Dragons have reached another level of offensive productivity that makes them virtually unbeatable. Against the Hawks, the Dragons did just that, scoring seven goals in the second period to one from St. Joe’s to pull out to an 11-4 lead at the half.

The rest of the game was decidedly less one-sided, but the seven-goal advantage from the first half proved to be too much for the Hawks to overcome. The Dragons’ lead shrank to 12-10 with four minutes remaining in the game, but a goal from junior midfielder Ryan Belka with 3:14 remaining squashed the hopes of a St. Joe’s comeback.

All season long Drexel’s goalie situation has been somewhat in question, with two seemingly competent goalies competing for a single spot. Once again, sophomore goalie Will Gabrielsen showed early that he deserved to be the guy, and head coach Brian Voelker rewarded him. Gabrielsen played the entire game, only allowing 10 goals with seven saves in the victory.

Redshirt freshman attacker Cole Shafer had an unremarkable performance — going scoreless, committing four turnovers and only taking three shots. As a freshman games like this are to be expected and, frankly, his performance so far this year has been outstanding. Going forward, however, the Dragons will need more from the kid from Canada.

The Dragons traveled to the University of Delaware March 29 to take on the Colonial Athletic Association rival Blue Hens in an attempt to raise their conference record to 1-1 after losing to Hofstra University March 22.

The first quarter was relatively uneventful, with goals by Drexel’s Belka and Delaware’s Beau Jones leaving the game tied 1-1 at the end of the first. Both teams seemed primed to play a defensive game throughout the first quarter, but that quickly changed in the second.

The next 20 minutes of gameplay were dominated by the Dragons[SMC1]  [BM2] offense, much like in their game against St. Joe’s. They scored four goals in the second quarter and two to start the third while only allowing a single goal to the Hens, building a 7-2 lead. Though Delaware mounted a minor comeback throughout the remainder of the game, the Dragons held on to win the game 9-7.

The trends from the St. Joe’s game continued into this one, with Gabrielsen once again earning himself a full game of play in the goal, allowing only seven goals and making 12 saves. Shafer had a similar game to the St. Joe’s game, with only three shots on goal and no goals.

Voelker said Shafer has been unlucky with illness and a minor injury, which is good news for Dragons fans because it means it should be just a short-term setback.

This victory was particularly important to the Dragons. Not only was it a major midseason game against a good opponent in Delaware, but it also has implications for seeding in the CAA Tournament. With the victory, the Dragons moved to fourth in the conference, only a game from moving up in the standings. They also managed to improve their in-conference record to 1-1.

The CAA Tournament begins in about a month, and now is the time for the Dragons to begin making their run. Ideally, they’ll go into the tournament on a hot streak and have a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed with some crucial wins over the next few weeks.

The team will finish the season playing against mainly CAA competition. The Dragons have a good chance to defeat an underperforming Pennsylvania State University team and could easily win against the University of Massachusetts and Towson University in the following weeks if they keep playing strong. They play High Point University in their regular-season finale and could finish 10-4 with a victory in that game.

An undefeated rest of the season is not likely, but the team could easily pull off a 3-1 record in these games. With that, the Dragons would finish the season 9-5 overall with a 4-1 or 3-2 record in CAA play. That seems like it would be adequate not only to make the CAA Tournament but also to earn one of the top two seeds, putting the team in a good position to win the whole thing and make it to the NCAA Tournament.

Voelker said he’s optimistic about the team’s CAA chances but knows that the team needs to keep working hard to avoid a letdown.

“We need to win the next couple games to get into the tournament,” he said. “We know that it’s going to be tough against teams like Penn State. Although they’ve been having a bad season, they’re a very scary team, and we need to stay focused to win some games to finish the year strong.”

The Dragons will attempt to continue their winning streak April 5 at home against CAA rival Penn State at Vidas Field.